The Need for Honorable Men

This is the introduction to the book Men of Valor, by D. Michl Lowe.

I have sat back and waited. Waited on the church. Waited on my friends. Waited on society. Waited for them to start moving, to wake up and see that our world is dying. The earth itself seems to be groaning. There is a palpable tension in the air. Evil is no longer allowed to be called evil and even those who prey upon children are starting to no longer be vilified. Not to mention the devastation of abortion. There is a great need in our culture to begin unraveling the problems that most of society no longer calls sin. It must start with Christian men. It must start with them standing up to be counted.

Creating a new way of living. Showing the love and truth of Christ to the dying world, but also working to show that men are culturally here to stay. That masculinity is not something shameful, but a prideful way of expressing gender that sets us apart from our wonderful ladies. We are strong, resolute in our faith, and gentle in our demeanor. We are silken iron.

The sad truth of today’s culture is that it has become normal to understand that men are stupid, clumsy, fat, lazy, and just useless. We see characters like Chandler and Joey from the sitcom Friends who are bumbling idiots only really interested in sex. The women of the show manipulate them constantly using sexual innuendo to get what they want. In one episode, the boys have rightly won the right to live in an apartment from the girls, only to have the two girls kiss each other in front of the boys in payment for the apartment. The boys leave the apartment saying, “Totally worth it! Then go into their separate rooms giving the impression they are going to go masturbate with the memory of what they have seen. These types of scenarios play out constantly in this show.

Or we see the characters Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin from The Simpsons and Family Guy, who are always doing stupid things. Countless times in shows like these, men are nearly always seen as the idiots and women seen as the voice of reason. I understand that this is done for comedic purposes, but men are the butt of jokes nearly all the time. It is rare to see a woman portrayed in this manner. Sitcom comedies do this so often, that the idea of masculinity is now seen as negative or even wrong. This is sad because masculinity is needed. Yes, that is a bold statement to make, but one that needs to be made. Masculinity is seen as unintelligent and even crass and uncouth. To some degree, men have not helped this stereotype with our sometimes-stupid antics, but this does nothing to degrade the need for masculine men.

Matt Walsh a popular online blogger and conservative commentator said it well;

“Disrespect for men is a joke to us now. A little while ago I stopped on the way home from work to buy my wife some flowers. As she rang me up, the cashier quipped: ‘Uh-oh, what’d you do?’ I wasn’t particularly amused, but I chuckled. She continued. ‘I don’t know if that’ll be enough to get you off the couch tonight!’ Ah, yes, the old “husband is punished by his wife and sent to the couch” meme. I’m not sure if this actually happens in real life, or if it’s an invention of 90’s ‘all men are fat, witless, oafs’ sitcoms, but the popularity of the stereotype is telling. Is this how we see husbands now? A man gets ‘in trouble’ with his wife, she scolds him and puts him in time-out on the couch. Now he must placate his alpha-bride by showering her with flowers and jewelry. Men are painted like children or dogs. They can be shooed off their own beds by their wives and sent to cower in the living room until she permits him to return. This is only slightly less offensive than the cliché of the sadistic wife who punitively withholds sex from her husband. ‘You didn’t clean the garage like I told you. No sex for you, mister! Next time, follow my instructions!’”

In our schools, typical male childish behavior is seen as deviant and a problem. Psychologist Michael Thompson has famously said that girl behavior is the gold standard in schools and boys are treated like defective girls. It is sad that boy behavior is so misunderstood and hated. Our young boys are treated with disdain and are misunderstood, recently in the news, I saw where a young boy in grade school bit a pop tart into a gun shape and started playing with it. He was promptly expelled from school. This type of intolerance isn’t right.  Our teachers are hamstrung in being able to implement discipline for actual negative behaviors and mandated paperwork for oversight has made it difficult to even teach what needs to be taught, so time afforded for simple physical play (an important need for young boys to exert energy) has become a secondary thought even though it’s also a mandated requirement.

This is not to say that women are less than men in any respect, but the idea that the sexes are both the same is not just silly, it’s dangerous. We are different right down to our chromosomes. Men have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome while women have two X chromosomes. Chromosomes are basically the fundamental building blocks of humanity. They contain DNA, which is the pattern by which humans are created and built. Within every human DNA is what makes a person an individual. The combining of their mother and father’s DNA has created each person; those patterns are used to create a completely new human being. Men and women are not the same and to pretend otherwise is honestly just silly.

I feel as though men are lost in our culture today. There isn’t a place for men to truly be men and embrace our masculinity. They search for meaning and purpose. One of the biggest forms of entertainment in the modern age is video games. It is estimated that by 2019 videogame yearly sales revenue would be around 41 billion dollars, not a small industry to be sure. It is a well-known fact that men tend to be consumers of the higher-end video game industry. While many women have broken into casual gaming, which accounts for many of the skewed statistics stating that women make up more than 50% of gamers, they continue to be underrepresented in the mainstream gaming market.

We would refer to most male gamers as “core” gamers in this respect, not players of Candy Crush or Angry Birds, as fun as those are. Some of this trend is changing with games that are marketed directly to women, but now it’s just the way things are. Why do so many men flock to video games? Besides the sports genre (which I believe is popular for different reasons), many of the games we see men playing involve stories and situations in which the player may assume the “role” of a hero of some kind.

Within the role of the male hero is the question, “What does it mean to be masculine?”. This idea of masculinity is idealized in the role of the male hero. Most men have a desire to be the hero of their own existence. In many PC games, one takes on the role of a hero that starts off as mostly a normal person, but through adventures and fulfilling quests begins to gain great power and becomes a leader in the vast world in which the game takes place.

In first-person shooter games on consoles and PCs alike, players often take on the role of a super soldier in a world of the future where aliens are trying to basically end all life in the universe. Through these super-soldiers, players can become the hero of the entire universe, saving humanity. It is often as if the player can save their game, sealing themselves away for a time when humanity might even need them again in the future. Self-sacrifice is a very pure form that often rises in these storylines.

While not a videogame, pen and paper role-playing games like the classic Dungeons and Dragons present a very solid argument that men are gravitating towards the realm of role-playing for a reason. In these games, you choose a “role” to play and through a form of guided storytelling, you can become the hero of your own story. Now there are a lot of reasons why all genders play these games, but for men, it often has to do with this innate desire to gain significance. God gave men this desire for significance and heroic inspiration. In Psalms 57:2 David says, “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose in me.” God calls all his people into glorious purpose. For men, this is often a desire to achieve significance and meaning. This isn’t a bad thing. In the realm of working towards achieving Christ’s purpose and meaning for our lives, men can find a true significance, but when we look past God to the world for significance, something is lost.

A while back, I sat in a very questionable chair in the back of a dirty and rundown shop in a very bad part of town. My wife was worried that I was going to this place; a day before, someone had been shot only one block from this store. There were about eight of us and the unkempt appearance of the other men around me might have off-put many (along with the smell), but I was comfortable in this place. Dungeons and Dragons had a way of bringing people together. However, on this day, the man on my left was not very happy. He had failed in several rolls of the dice and his character was on the verge of death. He angrily shouted at the Dungeon Master (the leader of the game) that it wasn’t fair, letting multiple expletives leave his person.

After the game was over, he was packing up all his books and little plastic figurines he angrily threw his pack on and stormed from the table, leaving the shop. His manhood, his meaning for life was so wrapped up in the fictional character he had created, that losing it was like losing part of who he was. It was sad to see. Shouldn’t there be more for men in this life? Shouldn’t there be more for them to strive for than just a fictional monument of meaning?

The men of this generation are lost, children. Society has taken away the villains and often even denies that such a thing exists. It is no longer good or evil, there are only differing opinions and cultures. No one is wrong, and everyone is right. There isn’t an outlet for masculinity in American society that is not in some way shunned. Men are now the aborted children of society and it is time for them to take a stand and become something more than just a joke. It’s time for true purpose to come back into the darkened hearts of men.

The truth of the issue is, there is evil in the world. Some issues are not questions, but facts. There is a great need for men to be willing to stand up and be accountable to the society they live in. It is time for us to step onto the dais of history once again and take a stand for what is right. There are certain truths in this world that should be observed and should be written in stone. There are ways of viewing the world that is right. The way men treat their fellow human beings matters. One of the greatest tragedies in this life is that evil prevails because Christian men choose to do nothing. The children of God have set on the sidelines for too long and allowed the truth to be kidnaped.

The truth has a nasty way of being unpopular. No one wants to hear the truth; people want you to agree with them and validate that what they have already decided is okay in their minds. There are no real attempts to understand the other side; there is only the manipulation and deceit of tolerance. It is this idea of tolerance that’s only there to convince you that this other person is on a higher moral level. Do not be deceived into the idea that tolerance and understanding are right because “everyone is okay”; that every idea is right and moral. Acceptance is only possible if you don’t disagree and don’t speak out. According to society, the status quo of tolerance and acceptance must be maintained above all other ideals. Understand the spiritual and intellectual warfare that is going on and continue to speak the truth regardless. This is a verbal war that will not stay in that realm for long, violence and death are already in the streets.  

The stance of moral and Christian truth will only be allowed for so long. Freedom as an idea is slowly moving towards being parallel with the status quo. This isn’t a call to rebellion in the sense of militaristic action, but it is a call to a rebellion of conscience and behavior. Within a framework of honor and Christian faith, men can begin to unravel the current culture of compliance and tolerance. Standing for Christian truth is not hard, but it will cost you. In fact, at some point in the future, it could cost you everything. Still, what is your soul worth?

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36.

Men are becoming what society has wanted them to become, pitiful creatures that are ashamed of their own masculinity. The men make a case to dismiss God so that they can ignore his law and live their lives in selfish admission. Distractions and sin have led to a willingness to live a blinded life; a life ignorant to their own destruction. Hedonism is the new vogue and it is the greatest lie that men believe to be true. Brief moments of pleasure and fun are constantly sought out and chased after. Downtime is filled with small screens, meaningless memes, and videos of cats with bread on their heads. What are men doing with their lives? What purpose is there? What meaningful significance is there to this existence if we pass into history without changing anything for God’s better plan?

As Paul Bois said in his Oct. 17th, 2017 Daily Wire article,

“…when knights surrender their swords, beasts shall devour maidens.” In a country and culture ruled over by Harvey Weinsteins, one can only raise the question; as Paul asks, “Are there any knights left”?

This has been the Introduction to Men of Valor, by D. Michl Lowe. Available now in full from this website. or at the link here: https://amzn.to/3PiWUoz

D. Michl Lowe

Fantasy Book Project Update 3

An update on the Fantasy Book Project. This week, I have been up at a Middle School Church Camp with my family. So I have spent a great deal of time in the chapel (when no one is there) writing. It’s a big open space and has fan noise which is always comforting to me. It’s not as good as my little writing nook back home, but it also doesn’t have internet, so no distractions either.

Currently, I am nearly on Chapter 12 and am over 25,000 words into the book. That has taken me to page 130 in the text. Along with that info, I am now sitting at 54 total chapters for this “book” in my outline. With that being said, I have already needed to add two chapters to the first 10 I had planned. If things continue, there could well be like 70 odd chapters in total, if not more.

I am considering now if I shouldn’t maybe split this book into more than one. Right now, I am looking at around 585 pages, if I don’t change font size or spacing. At the moment I am using Garamond, 14-size font, single-spaced, same as what this post is written in. That’s a large book. Depending on the type of print book you choose, the maximum Amazon allows is 828 pages, but some formats are limited to 776 or even 600 pages. So I am flirting with the limits of what the printing abilities are of Amazon. I’m not saying I’m not still considering a publishing house outside of Amazon, but really, I am enjoying using their service and so far am very satisfied with it.

As such, I wouldn’t just talk about where I am with the book, without giving you a small taste of what I have been working on. So without further ado, here is a rough draft section from the middle of Chapter 4: The Purpose Sent of what I am tentatively calling Species of the Smoke (still not sure of the title, it’s now changed several times). Side Note: Just some mild background info, a Flemi is a rabbit person and a Cront is a bat person. Not sure you totally needed to know that info, but you would know that at this point in the book. So now you are caught up.

Chapter 4: The Purpose Sent (in the middle of the chapter)

Dasa was back down the stairs in time to see Flarnie, the Pub’s owner, go running out the back door, shotgun in hand. In Bolster Heart, if there was a raid by the Cront or anyone else, everyone was expected to drop what they were doing and jump in to help with the defense, but Dasa had something else on his mind. Charity was at the Temple, and it was late, she would be one of the only Flemi left there. He had to get to her and make sure she was safe. She wouldn’t leave Ashlynn alone during a raid, but was this even a raid? He had never seen this many Cront at one time. Something was different.

The Temple of Ashlynn was only a block down the street, but already, Cront were rushing down among the houses and shops. He ran past several battles that were already happening, but clearly, the Flemi were winning, he passed a dozen dead on street and only two of them were Flemi. In front of him, two of them swooped down at him, their spears were tipped with obsidian and had a wicked curve to the blades. It was nothing for him to slide down on the slick stones of the street, easily passing under their thrusts, his gun was out of the holster in a smooth motion, the two rounds firing off without him even thinking about it. Both took a Cront in the back of their heads and the wings immediately lost their lift.

The bodies rolled and crumpled to the ground, twitching and spasming in their death. Dasa didn’t even wait to see if he had killed them, he ran on. He could see the temple, its bronzed gates stood open, which wasn’t that odd, they were usually open, but then he saw the domed roof. The side of which was caved in, the hole larger than a truck was gaping open. He rushed in through the wooden doors, banging them on the side of the wall, and could hear a battle taking place further within.

It didn’t take him long to get to the main chamber of the Temple, a large silver dome inside a room easily large enough for Flarnie’s Pub to fit inside. He saw something he couldn’t believe, two of the legendary beasts, fighting each other. And in the middle of it, was Charity. Her tiny revolver was making flashes towards the smaller of the two beasts, the blueish one. He recognized the creature immediately, he had seen him once, it was the beast who had escaped a year earlier. No one knew where he had gone, but this was him, Dumont.

I hope you enjoyed this tiny little look at what I have been working on. I’m sure some of it doesn’t make sense right now, but it will. I promise.

D. Michl Lowe

The Armed Woman: Raising Shield Maidens

Men are strong, like stronger than even most men realize. I’ve had many conversations with people about the reasons why I carry a firearm every day. I realized this when I saw a person rip a bed that was bolted to a concrete floor, out of that floor and single-handedly barricade a door with it.

They were coming down off drugs and their body was going nuts. That being said, I also realize that most burglaries that happen are not single-person jobs, but multi-person jobs. While I might be able to take one person, maybe, a multiple-person assault though means I am overwhelmed and am unable to protect myself or anyone else.

As such, I have always felt that self-protection is a human right, and one of the best tools for stopping a person who intends harm is a firearm. It’s why the police carry them, it’s also why militaries the world around carry firearms of all kinds. They are effective. I’m not going to pretend that guns don’t harm people, they do. They are very good at that, especially in trained hands. As such, I train. Not as much as I would like, but I have attempted to not be unskilled.

However, I have had fewer conversations about why I am raising my two girls to do the same thing. More than ever, I believe our young ladies should be armed. Men are strong, and while they don’t have a monopoly on violence or sexual assault, the majority of those things are done by men. As such, a woman who is most often physically weaker than any given man should have the ability to even the field of combat.

What is scarier than a woman who is defending herself, her children, or even her husband? I am under the firm belief that a good man should always be ready to defend his family and himself, but let’s face it, sometimes men fail at being good men. Sometimes they are not there for their family or their wife. Beyond that though, even good men can’t be everywhere at once and sometimes the lady of the house is on her own.

Now, do I wish the pain of having to take a life on my wife or my girls? No! Not at all, my goodness no! I would never wish such a thing. But I also am working to prepare them for battle should that nightmare visit them. I would rather they killed an assailant than be raped or themselves murdered by them.

So what does that look like for my girls? I am teaching them to safely handle firearms at a young age. I am taking them shooting and teaching them the fundamentals. Beyond that, I am teaching them fundamentals beyond just firearms. I am teaching them to use knives and to carry those as well.

Up close, sometimes a knife is a better option. Or if you are in a crowded place, a firearm might not be a good choice. I am teaching them to be aware of their surroundings. Teaching them to get their heads out of their phone or a book when in public. Keep their head on a swivel! Glance behind yourself while walking to be aware of what’s around you.

Keep a small (but powerful, over 70 lumens) flashlight on yourself at all times. At night, a person with a flashlight on and shining into dark corners is not only more aware but also sends a signal to all would-be attackers that this person is not an easy target. This also leads us into a discussion of clothing choices. A woman’s clothing choice should allow them to continue to carry their EDC (everyday carry) items. A thigh holster, a belly band, an in-the-waist band holster, a knife clipped in a pocket, or the waist of their pants or dress. There are even ways to carry a firearm in a special bra called a “flash-bang”, which is hilarious and well named in my opinion. I refer to these sorts of ladies as Shield Maidens, taken from Lord of the Rings. I believe all women should take on this title.

Do I wish that title didn’t need to be taken? Of course, I do. However, in today’s world, we can’t allow ourselves to sit idly by and twiddle our thumbs, while wolves prowl the woods. There are people who will say that they can’t bring themselves to carry a firearm, or even a knife and I understand that. Sometimes, the experiences of this world wound people or bring them into themselves in such a way that they feel they could never do such a thing. I understand that. However, that is not an excuse to be complacent about your own safety or the safety of those in your charge. This is why I mentioned awareness and flashlights. Seventy lumens of light into the eyes of a person will blind them temporarily, even in sunlight. While this is not foolproof, it is better than nothing and has worked to save lives.

So this is how I am raising my girls. To be Shield Maidens. Those willing and able to protect both themselves and others should the need arise. I hope it is me, but if I am unable, I pray they will rise to the occasion.

“Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"
Then Merry heard in all sounds of the hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel.
"But no living man am I! You are looking upon a woman. Eowyn am I, Eomund's daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him."
The winged creature screamed at her, but then the Ringwraith was silent, as if in sudden doubt. Very amazement for a moment conquered Merry's fear. He opened his eyes and the blackness was lifted from them. There some paces from him sat the great beast, and all seemed dark about it, and above it loomed the Nazgul Lord like a shadow of despair. A little to the left facing them stood whom he had called Dernhelm. But the helm of her secrecy had fallen from her, and and her bright hair, released from its bonds, gleamed with pale gold upon her shoulders. Her eyes grey as the sea were hard and fell, and yet tears gleamed in them. A sword was in her hand, and she raised her shield against the horror of her enemy's eyes.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

D. Michl Lowe

The Dead and the Detective: A chapter from the Fantasy Book Project

The Police Station was only thirty minutes from the perp’s residence, just down the river. It was an older house, long past its prime. Detective Chell Roberts was convinced that it had taken them so long to find him because he was so smart. The perp had been so close to her this whole time. He was a librarian by all accounts and intelligent, very intelligent.

She thought that she may have checked a book out from him once. They had been on Vishna Abbot’s trail for over a year now but hadn’t known that name until just yesterday. She riffled through the file that was sitting on her lap as the little carriage she was in bumped down the road, the lights and siren were not on. They were hoping to take Vishna by surprise at home.

He should be home from the library at Riggleman Manor by now, he worked there till about 4:00 p.m. each day, or so her informants had told her. She glanced at her watch, it was 5:01 p.m., and then looked over to her partner, Jason Blount. He sat on the seat beside her in the back of the police carriage, its engine purring along down the cobbled street. He was a good man, but at times much too intellectual for her, and too stern to boot, but he was a good cop. He glanced over at her and smiled. For all that negative, she couldn’t help but feel like they had gotten closer while on this case.

The pictures from the file were dark, but she could see the man’s face, and slicked-back hair, she thought it must be blond, hard to tell with a black and white photo, but the color ones were expensive and you could only get the good film from Repton up North in Haxby. He was tall though, and wiry. “You ready for this?” she asked, dropping the folder to her lap.

He turned to her, his trimmed mustache looking like a little fuzzy worm on his upper lip, it was cute. “Yeah, it’s about time we got this creep. He’s been out here too long pulling this crap.” He shook his head mournfully, “I’m just sorry Jackson had to go as he did. Not fair that.”

Officer Jackson Drake had been the lead investigator on this case, and his ashes had been found in his apartment, along with a great deal of blood. They had known it was the Butcher of Charles Gate because the man had left a note telling the police to back off, or more of them would end up the same way. Chell had requested the case the very next day and that had been five months ago.

Now they were sure they had their suspect nearly in hand. Several solid leads had led them to the little house down by the river just a few blocks from Riggleman Manner, where the library Vishna worked at was located. As they pulled up, a block from the house, use they were surprised by its age, it was one of the classic homes, red brick with white columns along the front porch. It wasn’t large, but it certainly was nicer than what Chell herself lived in. Getting out of the carriage, she pulled her revolver from the leather holster at her hip and checked the chambers.

“Let’s make sure to do this safely, right?” she said. “Victor, Mazy, Pullo; you all head around to the back. Jason and Teller, you two are with me here at the front. The house was dark, which seemed odd. He should already be home. Chell kicked in the front door, “Police! Come out from where you are with your hands where I can see them, then do not move!” She heard the backdoor team enter and shout a similar phrase, but there was nothing, no sounds or shouts, just nothing.

“Maybe he isn’t home yet?” Jason asked.

“Maybe, but let’s be careful. Remember this is the guy who took out Jackson and may be responsible for those disappearances. We don’t know what he’s capable of. So just stay alert.” Chell moved into the entryway of the house, being careful to mark the corners of each room she moved into. After several minutes, the back team had checked upstairs and found nothing and her team had swept the entire downstairs, both teams met in the kitchen and Chell had the backdoor team and Teller remain upstairs and watch for him to return, while she and Jason checked in the basement.

“Dang, creepy right?” Jason said as they moved into the basement.

“Very,” Chell said, as she lit a lantern on her belt. Moving down the stairs and onto the stone floor below, the darkness wafted back away from her light. There were shelves upon shelves creating a maze of junk. As they searched among the shelves, a rancid smell seemed to permeate the whole of the area. They both came together near a larger shelf along the back wall, more ornate than the rest of the room.

“What are the chances this is a secret entrance to some sort of evil lair or something?” Jason asked.

Chell inwardly groaned and rolled her eyes. “You read too many mystery novels, Jason. It’s never that easy.”

Jason reached out to a large book on the shelf labeled Fontello James, a popular author in Warrington, and pulled on the spine of the book as a joke. As he did, there was a large clank and then the section of the shelf they were standing in front of slid back and swung open, revealing a passage moving further under the house.

“I totally knew that was there,” Jason said, smirking.

Chell cocked her head to the side, giving Jason an odd look for the odd comment. He had that way about him, a sort of joking confidence that she was starting to appreciate. She motioned for him to come with her as she entered the revealed passage. It wasn’t a long passage, but soon it became clear where the smell was coming from.

They opened the door and walked down three short steps into a large circular room filled with ash, nearly three feet deep in most places. Throughout the ash, there were pieces of charred clothing and bits of bone and hair.

“This is a grave,” Chell said, covering her mouth with her hand. “These are all dead people.”

Jason retched, emptying the contents of his stomach. Maybe he wasn’t that cute. “I figured that out,” he said wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. She put her hand on his shoulder.

“You gonna be, okay?”

He nodded his head, “Yeah, yeah. I’m fine now. Just a little much all at once, right?”

They walked on through the ash and entered a widened hall with chains hanging from the rafters on the ceiling. From those chains hung at least ten creatures; two brown dogs, four humans, two more Mangalit, a Flemi oddly enough, and finally a Keyoten. All of them had much of their skin peeled away from their bodies and they all groaned, unconscious, but still alive apparently.

Chell checked one of the humans and his face came up to look at her, but there were no eyes in his head. He tried to speak, but his tongue had been cut out apparently so he just groaned.

A shot rang out above. Chell and Jason looked at each other, then bolted for the door. As they rounded the top of the stairs, they were surprised to find their perp sitting on the floor. Mazy stood over him with her baton rapping against the palm of her hand. Pullo was placing cuffs on Vishna.

He didn’t even know we were in here till it was too late. He tried to take a shot at us, but I think he was so surprised by us, that he shot a hole in the ceiling.” Pullo said smiling over at Chell and Jason.

“You’re a bunch of fools, do you know who I am?” Vishna said. “I work for Riggleman Manor, for the Queen’s library!”

Chell smiled at him. “We finally got you, you murdering psychopath! We found your little room downstairs, you are going away for the rest of your life, you sicko.”

Vishna smiled back at her. “Do you think this is the end of the game?” he said. “This is only the start of the game. With everything that happened today, the game is just beginning. I can assure you that.” He began to laugh, a chuckle at first and then a belting guffaw. Chell nodded for the other officers to take him out to the carriages, then turned back to Victor. “Victor, head out and get a message to the local hospital, we are going to need medical assistance. I don’t know if anyone down there is going to survive, and maybe that’s for the best.” She ran the back of her hand over her forehead. Several other officers were heading down into the basement now as well.

“Why was he torturing people like that?” Jason asked a sneer twisting his mouth.

“He was trying to see how close he could get to combustion without having it happen. I read about some crazy scientist sixty years or so ago who did the same thing, tortured people to the point they would combust, and recorded all the data. Said he was trying to save lives by experimenting on people. He found that Brown Dogs combusted easier than Kyoten for some reason. Killed a couple hundred of each though to obtain that data. He worked for the old King of Leyburn, Xanben Rothchild before the people revolted up there and deposed him.” She patted Jason on the shoulder.

“Nasty bit of business that, but I’m wondering if Vishna here has outdone him. That room downstairs was full of ash. How many people would it take to make a twenty-foot by twenty-foot room have three feet of ash in it? Thousands? I don’t know, but he’s one sick guy.” They walked out of the house as the medical team rushed past them.

“Are you heading back home now then?” Chell asked, a hint of hope in her voice. Hope that he might not.

“Yeah, Zell is waiting on me, she gets worried when she knows I’m going on a raid. I guess I’ll see you in the morning then, yeah?” He smiled at her.

“Yeah, I’ll see you in the morning, get some rest.” She turned and headed back to the carriages. She hadn’t taken more than five steps before a frown crossed her face. She had wanted him to spend more time with her, but that was stupid. He was married, and besides, he was her partner. Everyone knew that partners couldn’t be more than that, it never worked out. She grabbed the handle of the carriage and stopped. He was married. He had kids. It wasn’t right, these feelings she had. She needed to get her head on straight.

Backing out of the parking spot, she decided to head down to the local pub, a place called the Pig-Pen. They had good coffee and after what she had seen, she needed something to clear her head. It was going to be a long week.

Eight Christian Parenting Thoughts

I stood at the door to her room and looked down at my watch, it was 1:21 a.m. nearly 7 hours had passed since I had put her to bed. I had to be ready to leave for work in about 5 hours. The door to her room slowly opened and a little face peeked out through the crack. I opened the door, picked up my two-year-old daughter and put her back in the bed, closed the door, and waited. Two minutes later, the door slowly opened again and a little smiling face looked out the crack; repeat. Raising kids is challenging. You will never be perfect and you shouldn’t try to be. You won’t succeed.

Just realize that you will grow in understanding as things go on. If we are going to talk about steps to making parenting better, you should make sure to fully discuss the topic of discipline with your spouse, future spouse, and/or boyfriends. Honestly, all of the above. Discipline is one of those aspects of parenting that if not agreed upon, will tear a relationship apart quicker than almost anything. Discussing this topic is a big deal! Make sure, whether or not you two fully agree on how it is to be done, that you both agree on what will be done. Consistency in discipline is a major key to success with parenting. So, here are several key ideas to keep in mind when disciplining kids and teens.

  1. If your marriage is not solid, your kids won’t be either. This is number 1 for a reason. I say marriage because actually being married is more than important. A solid marriage is the best thing you can do for your kids. I understand that sometimes it’s not possible to be married anymore or that the other parent isn’t willing, but if at all possible, marriage should be on the table and put up on a pedestal above all other relationships. Put God first in your life, then your marriage, then kids, then work, etc. Priorities of importance should be examined and agreed upon.
  2. Prepare by talking with your spouse about what you will do when discipline issues arise, and they will. Talk through issues you know you are going to face as they come up and before they happen. Don’t undermine each other, even if you don’t agree with how your spouse is handling a situation. Back them up, then talk about it later. If the way you all want to handle it changes, let the kids know that the rules have changed. Children are pretty flexible and can adjust to almost anything. If you need to change the way you are doing things, do it.
  3. Tell your kids what your expectations are for them and allow them to live up to those expectations. Let them know what the consequences of failure are. Hold to your commitment to discipline and make sure the kids fulfill their side of the commitment.
  4. Realize they are only (insert the child’s age here) and don’t fully understand things the way you do. If you need to do some research into age-appropriate discipline, that’s why we have google. For that matter, understand that kids are going to make mistakes and even outright defy you. Know this going into the situation of being a mom or dad and prepare yourself to take what your kids throw at you with a degree of humor, understanding, and firm diligence.
  5. Get on your kid’s level, physically and verbally, to speak to them and make sure to end ALL discipline with a discussion of the event, error, etc. Understand that those leading children to the feet of Jesus make a huge difference to them in connecting the truth of scripture to everyday life. Make sure to show them cuddles and love at the end. I find a discussion about how I feel about them and why I discipline them (because I love them) helps them to understand why they got in trouble and how they can avoid being in trouble in the future.
  6. Don’t give discipline in anger. If you are angry, it’s time to step back and distance yourself from the child. Regain your own composure and then return to the situation. Recognize your own frustration. Seriously, putting your child into the crib and walking away when they are screaming will not scar them for life. Sometimes you have to let them cry. Let me say that again, sometimes you have to let them cry. If they are older, step back and give them some space and then come back. They might need some time to compose themselves too. Distance gives you both an opportunity to consider your tactics for discipline.
  7. For a baby in a crib, that you are trying to get to sleep through the night, remember the 5,10,15 rule. Let them cry for 5 minutes and then go in to check on them and lay them back down or rub their back till they are calm. Then leave for 10 minutes; repeat other steps, return again after 15 minutes, and repeat the above steps again. Under no circumstances should you pick them up or remove them from the crib, unless there’s blood or you know they are wet, poopy, etc. Allowing a child to teach themselves self-soothing is important and you will thank me for telling you it’s okay to help them learn this.
  8. With teens, realize they own nothing, you own basically everything they have. Be willing and take the time to understand what is most important to them (this applies to all ages) and then be willing to take that away and give it back to get compliance of behaviors. If it’s not motivating enough for them to change their behaviors, then you are wasting both of your time in disciplining the child or teen.

Discipline can be challenging. There are times that it will seem overwhelming to you. Don’t give up hope. Consistency in effort and a united front as a couple are the keys to good parenting. Remember, royally screwing up kids takes a lot of effort. Kids are very resilient. They bounce back from completely horrible stuff. They say, that as long as a kid has at least one adult in their life that actually cares for them, they can make it. Throughout my time working with kids, I have seen kids go through absolutely horrendous abuse, and yet once they are away from that abuser and are in a secure place with people who care about them and love them, they thrive. So basically, as long as you are loving your kids and giving them clear boundaries, most of the time they are going to be fine. It doesn’t take a village to raise a good kid, it takes parents who are involved and love their kids enough to discipline them.

D. Michl Lowe

Would I Marry My Wife Again?

On a recent trip back to my and Alicia’s university where we met, my kids asked me an interesting question. “Daddy,” they asked. “Are you and mommy going to renew your wedding vows at MVNU when you get there?” I purposed to Alicia at the gazebo down in the grove at MVNU and then we got married in the very spot where I purposed, in the gazebo. So that particular place holds a great deal of meaning to us as a couple. However, in the car that day, I told the kids, “No, I don’t feel the need to renew my vows to Alicia because I still love her and my vows hold just as strong today as they did back then.” But it got me thinking. Alicia and I just celebrated our 18th year of marriage on June 5th of this year, 2022. Looking back, would I do it all again? Would I marry this girl who I fell in love with back in 2000 and then married in 2004? Would I go through it all again?

Alicia and I met in September of 2000 in a field at MVNU in the middle of campus. My roommate at the time introduced us and she was sitting on the ground eating a hotdog with her roommate. I just said hi, and didn’t really think much about it… she was just a girl. Not really knowing my roommate very well (we didn’t know each other before coming to school) and of course not knowing her, I could have never expected what the future would hold. But we became friends. We started to hang out at school and over time, she became more than just my friend. There were struggles during our dating relationship. There was learning that had to take place. I had to come to an understanding of who this gentle girl was. She was unlike anyone else I had ever been interested in. She was completely different than me. I am loud, excitable, passionate, and silly. She is quiet, withdrawn at times, and gentle.

Here’s the thing though, she was wonderfully unique. She wasn’t like the typical girls I would have gone for. She was different, but so very much what I needed. She grounded me in a way. Brought me back to earth. When I would get flighty or would become too much, she would help to bring me back. She was/is honest with me. Men in particular need a lady to ground them. There are a lot of good things about men. Lots to like about these burly boys, but it takes a woman to help those boys truly become men. Not saying you have to have a lady to be a real man, not at all, but I will say this… becoming a true man is much harder to do without a good lady at your side. Together, men and women make each other better. I know choice in a mate is important too, but in general, I would say I am correct, that men and women make each other better. The weakness of masculinity is made strong with the feminine. The weakness of the feminine is made strong in the masculine.

Can you find Nikolai in this photo? He’s hiding.

With Alicia and I, I think we have made each other better. I am a better man because of her. What is it Tom Cruise said, “you complete me”? I don’t know if that’s the right idea, because I have always said that two incomplete people make for a poor couple, but in our case, while I don’t consider us half-people, I do know that knowing her, loving her, and being with her has made me a better person. She doesn’t complete me, but I am “complete”ly in love with her. More so today than yesterday.

So, would I marry her again? Yes. Would I have children with her again? Yes. Would I go through the struggles we’ve had with Kat again with her? Yes. Would I go through all the strife of finding lost Grandparents with her again? Yes. Would I go through Nikolai being put into the NICU again? Yes. Would I go through the struggles of early marriage finances and even struggles in finances today again? Yes. All of everything that has been hard, that has been said, that has left us feeling lost, unhappy, fearful, misunderstood, and mourning. Would I go through all of that again? Would I put my trust in Christ to lead me down the road he has? Would I take her hand again in all of everything that life has to offer us and look into that uncertainty and struggle again with her again?

Yes.

With no hesitation, yes.

My darling, my love, the very flesh of my flesh. I love you. I will love you; I have loved you, and I will continue to love you. You are mine, and I am forever yours. I will fail you, disappoint you, and someday, I might even lose you… but I want you to know that I love you and nothing is changing that.

I love you.

D. Michl Lowe

Christian Non-violence

Throughout my life, it was always an understood fact that self and others’ defense was a perfectly reasonable and accepted fact of the Christian life. I knew about Christian pacifists, specifically those in Amish communities, but while I understood these groups to be Christian, I always believed them to be more legalistic in their dogma. I mean, these were the same people who said it was “wrong” to wear colored clothes and drive cars. I understood why they did what they did, but I didn’t see those things as wrong, and especially didn’t see them as “sin”. However, in more recent years, there seems to be a much larger growing population of Christians who see themselves as pacifists. When I was writing the book that would eventually become Men of Valor, I did a lot of research into this way of thinking. At the time, our church was following a man named Francis Chan, a pretty amazing teacher of the Gospel and this guy had a friend named Preston Sprinkle, a fun name, I know.

Preston Sprinkle seems to be one of the leading modern voices for this idea of Christian non-violence. In fact, he wrote a book about it, first called Fight, and later retitled Christian Non-violence. Preston is an amazing writer. His level of research is amazing and, in the back of his book, he talks about wanting to grab his shotgun and shooting the thug, he says, “The mere thought of someone harming my family stirs up something fierce.” He then goes on to ask his reader, “… are you 100 percent sure that God won’t intervene?” I’ve been asked this basic question several times. Basically, implying that by stepping back and allowing the evil person to continue unimpeded, you are showing faith in Christ.

To me, this just reeks of the story about a man in a sinking ship. He prays to God to save him. A man comes along in a rowboat and offers to save the sinking man, but he refuses. Two others come and ask him if he wants to be saved, but he refuses each time saying that he is waiting for God to save him. Well, the man drowns. He gets to Heaven and asks God, “Why didn’t you save me?” God replies, “Well, I sent you three rowboats!” God has given man the ability to be a man. “Haven’t I commanded you; be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

He would not require something of us if he hadn’t also given us the ability to accomplish it. As men, even modern men, we yearn for a time when we can stand up and be counted among the great men of the age. Men often attempt to sate this urge with video games and movies about heroes. However, in these arguments we see Christians trying to get us to ignore this inborn, God-given desire to save those whom we love. This isn’t right. Why would God call us to gamble with our family’s lives? God has called humans to a higher standard. One that compels us to put our own lives on the line to save those we love; even if it means killing an evil person. We wouldn’t want to do it, might even beg the person to not make us do it, but in the end, we would do it, if there were no other option.

In another section of his book, Mr. Sprinkle says, “Do you own a gun? Is it loaded? Are you a good shot? Are you a better shot than your attacker? If you are such a good shot, then why not shoot the gun out of his hand?” This is where Mr. Sprinkle really loses his credibility. He makes several other statements about guns and then backtracks and says he “owns several guns” as if that means he is somehow an authority. I am not an authority in any way but know enough to know when someone is just fear-mongering. The ending crux of Mr. Sprinkle’s arguments really falls apart when he says, “But not all enforced pain is violent. It all depends on the intention.” He is calling for you to beat up an attacker and just not kill them.

I mostly agree with his statement, but not in the context of how he says it. I believe that a person’s intention is paramount. I believe I can kill someone with the pure intent of saving someone else or even myself. Not all killing is done in hate. Also, unfortunately, Mr. Sprinkle does not understand a violent attacker. Specifically, while I have not been involved in a fight for my life, I would say I am an authority on people who are coming down off drugs. I can tell you that I have seen men (and women), who are coming down off drugs, who it took eight full-grown adults to hold down in a therapeutic hold. Even with that number of people, it was still like riding a bucking bull. A person who is filled with adrenaline is a powerhouse! I’m sure we have all heard the stories of moms lifting cars off of infants when filled with adrenaline.

What Mr. Sprinkle doesn’t seem to understand, is that someone hyped on drugs or full of adrenaline is more than a match for a person who is scared. For that matter, most home break-ins aren’t done by single individuals, but by more than one person.

In this instance, it’s at least two against one. You must have an equalizer to have any chance at all. He argues that forcefully killing the attacker is an act of violence and he is right, but that violence is not evil, it is providing justice in love for evil here on earth. Christ always calls us to love first and I find that idea compelling and instructional. I like what César Chávez has said about it, “I am not a nonviolent man. I am a violent man who is trying to be nonviolent.” I also quite like Jordan Peterson when he says, “A harmless man is not a good man. A good man is a very, very dangerous man who has that under voluntary control.” Violence in a fallen world is a necessity to live a Godly life. Being willing to soil your unbloodied hands and your own innocence is at times necessary to do what is right, to live a life that God has called you to.

I have always had a great amount of respect for C.S. Lewis and in reading Mere Christianity again, I find a nearly perfect quote from him about what it means for a Christian to take a life.

“Does loving your enemy mean not punishing him? No, for loving myself does not mean that I ought not to subject myself to punishment—even to death. If one had committed a murder, the right Christian thing to do would be to give yourself up to the police and be hanged. It is, therefore, in my opinion, perfectly right for a Christian judge to sentence a man to death or a Christian soldier to kill an enemy. I always have thought so, ever since I became a Christian, and long before the war, and I still think so now that we are at peace.” He is saying that taking a life for a justified reason, is not the same as murder, not in God’s eyes anyway and it certainly shouldn’t be in our eyes. I also find the idea that some who preach Christian pacifism or Christian non-violence seem to believe that if you believe otherwise, you are somehow not in line with Christ, or that you cant be saved if you believe this way. I find this to be a very dangerous way of thinking. You might believe I misunderstand a Biblical concept, which I certainly do believe if you preach Christian non-violence, but I do not believe you are not a Christian if you believe this. I believe you misunderstand a Biblical concept, but that this concept is not a salvific concept that much be understood right away. You can misunderstand this, and still be a follower of Christ. But to those who preach Christian non-violence though and say if you don’t agree you are not a follower of Christ… perhaps you should back off a step and remove the plank from your own eye.

So, in the end, I’m sorry Mr. Sprinkle, but I love my family, innocents, and the temple of the Holy Spirit (my own body), too much to allow evil to debase or destroy them. I choose love, not hate. Because you would truly have to hate someone to allow the evil of this world to act when you have been given the ability to stop that evil by an all-powerful and loving God. In fact, I believe you become evil in allowing it to continue.

A Christian Response to Gun Violence

December 29th, 2019 was a day that the membership of West Freeway Church of Christ in Texas will likely never forget. A man who they had fed several times and shown the love of Christ to in the past came into church that day dressed in a long black trench coat and a fake beard. The church security team was put on alert and they positioned themselves close to the man, just in case. During the service, he got up and went to the back of the church to talk to one of the security personnel and then opened fire with a shotgun he had hidden under his coat.

He killed two members of the congregation before one of the security team persons, Jack Wilson, pulled a firearm and shot the man, ending the rampage. It was a horrific ordeal that left the church and the nation stunned. Not long after, on January 13th, 2019, The Governor of Texas, Greg Abbot placed The Medal of Courage around Jack Wilson’s neck. Speaking to a small crowd, the Governor said,

“Only God knows who is alive today because of Jack Wilson. What we do know is that so many lives were saved because of Jack Wilson’s quick action, his calmness under pressure, and, above all else, his courage and his willingness to risk his own life to save the lives of others.”

Speaking about what happened during the incident, Jack would say,

“The events at West Freeway Church of Christ put me in a position that I would hope no one would have to be in, but evil exists and I had to take out an active shooter in church. I am very sad about the loss of two dear friends and brothers in Christ, but evil does exist in this world and I and other members are not going to allow evil to succeed.”

Later on, after receiving The Medal of Courage he said,

“I feel more as a protector than I do a hero. I feel very honored that God allowed me to have that capability to do what needed to be done at that particular time… I don’t feel like I killed an individual. I feel like I killed evil. That’s how I’m approaching it and that’s how I’m processing [it].”

So why am I talking about a mass shooting? How should Christian men respond to these types of situations? Am I saying that all Christian men should be carrying guns every day? No. Am I saying that Christian men should embrace a life that may lead them toward violence? Maybe. Am I saying that as a man of Christ you should be prepared to do what Christ would call us to do in terms of loving people enough to sacrifice our own comfort, innocence, and bloodless hands? Absolutely! As a man, you have been called to love your neighbors, protecting others should be something we not only think about but something we actively prepare to do.

In Mathew 22: 37-40, Jesus is talking to a Pharisee who has asked Him which is the greatest commandment of the law, and he said,  

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Mathew 22:37-40

Christ calls us to lay down our lives in love for others. To allow a moral evil, like the one present when a person is seeking to commit murder, rape, abduction, or the like; is to put aside the love you have for the victim of that sin. David French, in his article for the National Review, called The Biblical and Natural Right of Self Defense says,

While the New Testament certainly removes from the individual Christian any justification for vengeance (leaving vengeance to God’s agent, the state) – lex talionis (eye for an eye) was always a rule of proportionate justice, not self-defense. In fact, Jesus’s disciples carried swords, and Jesus even said in some contexts the unarmed should arm themselves (Luke 22:36). The sword’s use was only specifically forbidden when Peter used violence to block Christ’s specific purpose to lay down his life.

We have been called to be prepared for Christ’s sake. In 1st Corinthians 16:13, it says,

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” Corinthians 16:13

Be watchful; in other words, be prepared and ready to respond in the way Christ would have you to respond. If we are to truly love the helpless, the weak, and our neighbor; as we love ourselves then we must protect them in whatever way we can. Now I hear your questions and statements already.

Just because we are called to “love our neighbors” as ourselves does that mean we must protect them by killing?

That seems extreme I hear some of you saying. People die as martyrs. Sacrificing themselves for the faith, have you thought of that?

You know, the next verse in Corinthians 16, the 14th verse says, “And whatever you do, do it with kindness and love.” Does killing someone seem kind or loving to you?!

Let me address these concerns. When we are talking about the possibility of killing someone, we don’t take this action lightly. Nothing about this act is a good thing, beyond your love for those you are attempting to protect. If there is literally any other way to address the situation, that way should be taken; period! Is it extreme? Of course, it’s extreme, that’s why it’s sad and harmful, even for the person who is forced to do it.

What about being a martyr? Shouldn’t Christians welcome the ability to stand up for the faith in death? It is honorable to die for the faith, but that is a calling from Christ that an individual must make for themselves in a prayerful moment or beforehand during a time of crisis. When it is known that this possibility exists you can prepare for that action. If you are able to understand the nature of the world you inhabit and you are willing to die to further the causes of Christ, and that Christ has specifically called you to this end.

What about that 14th verse in Chapter 16 of Corinthians, “And whatever you do, do it with kindness and love”? Doesn’t that speak directly against what you are saying?

Not at all. Within the call to action in kindness and love is the understanding that giving a response to aberrant behavior is not unloving or unkind. An alternate understanding might be that we are giving justice and in that continuing to show love to the victims of evil. Proverbs 21:15 even tells us, “When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.”

Also, in Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis explained, “’Does loving your enemy mean not punishing him? No, for loving myself does not mean that I ought not to subject myself to punishment — even to death. If you had committed a murder, the right Christian thing to do would be to give yourself up to the police and be hanged.’ Capital punishment may or may not be good public policy, but we ought not oppose it because we are supposed to “love” everybody. Failing to punish a dangerous criminal is not behaving with love toward the rest of our neighbors.”

Coming back to the idea of being a martyr, we must also understand our role as a man of Christ and the consideration that our death would impact others around us. We must not search out or condone our own death when doing so would bring others further from or outside of an understanding of Christ’s saving grace. If allowing myself to die would give my family the cause to fall further from an understanding of the love of Christ, then I must do all I can to maintain my life and the life of those I am within reach of to help them in their pursuit of Christ.

David French lays out the self-defense argument nicely in the same article. He says,

…the morality of self-defense is not only presumed, the act of self-defense is permitted and even mandated by key Biblical figures. This principle flows of course from a moral law that reveres human life. It should be protected, not merely avenged. Nehemiah, when he was rebuilding Jerusalem in the face of hatred (not in wartime, but when tribal neighbors were seeking to carry out vigilante attacks on Jews) instructed his people: “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” (Nehemiah 4:14).

As the men of Christ, we have a responsibility to live into the role Christ has cast for us in whatever way we are able. Some of us might see carrying a gun for defense as a moral blight. I have often thought about King David when looking at the possibility of having to take a life. David was seen as a man after God’s own heart, but he is also seen as the warrior king. In fact, he was not even allowed to build God’s temple because he had shed too much blood. 1 Chronicles 22:8 says,

“But this word of the Lord came to me: ‘You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight.” 1 Chronicles 22:8

David was following God’s commands throughout his military campaigns. Even when we look at his battle with Goliath where David clearly took a life (in a rather gruesome way); he was also following the commands of God in doing so. Were the deaths at David’s hands insignificant then? No, they weren’t or he would have been worthy to construct the temple. So, while he was not committing sin to slay his enemies, God felt that those deaths were a stain on David in some non-sinful way. This makes sense because any time a life is lost it’s no small thing, to us or to God. This is one of the burdens of being a man.

In times of great peril, we are often called into dishonoring ourselves with blood.

While this is not sin, it is still a blight upon your soul and mind. You would literally never be the same person. The mental, spiritual, and even physical burdens that this ordeal places upon a person are great indeed. God realizes this. I believe this is why David was told that he was not the one who was going to build the temple. Let’s remember, however, that David’s son Solomon, was given the honor of building the temple. His father sacrificed his own honor, taking on the blight and stench of death, and in the end, his son was able to gain great honor for God by being the one to build it.

David was the warrior King so that Solomon might rule in relative wealth and prominence. As men, we are at times called to follow in the footsteps of David and kill so that others might live. There is pain, heartache, sorrow, and depression in taking on this burden, but that is the mantle we are called to take up. The possibility of dishonoring ourselves for the sake of others is real and should be taken seriously. Did Christ not do this for us, take on shame and sin in our stead? As Christ has done, we should do likewise.

D. Michl Lowe

My Guilt and Inspiration: The time I found Robert Jordan’s house

Me standing at the gates to Robert Jordan’s mansion with the white dragon banner flying off the porch.

I may get some flak for this article and to some degree, I think it might even be warranted. However, I feel like I need to write it and talk about it so that is what I am going to do. In March of 2022, my wife and I decided to take our first-ever cruise. We were on a pretty small ship apparently comparing our ship to the many others when we would pull into ports, but the smallness did afford us something quite nice; we were able to go ashore in Charleston SC. I am not a fan of large cities, but if I am going to go to one, Charleston SC is just about my favorite.

I enjoy walking around the city. I enjoy the food in the city. I enjoy the atmosphere of this city. I enjoy the history of this city. So many things about this place that I really love, which is odd, because basically every other city on Earth, I despise.

Well, we came into port and had several hours to kill in Charleston. I had two things on my mind, one was that I was getting a cold and needed to head to a pharmacy so that I could get some cold medication and the other, was that I wanted to find Robert Jordan’s house. Some of you might not know who Robert Jordan is, so let me just take a moment and explain who this guy was. Robert Jordan was the main author of the Wheel of Time series of books. This is a fourteen-book series that was written from 1990 to 2013. Robert Jordan died on September 16th, 2007 from primary amyloidosis with cardiomyopathy, basically it’s a blood disease that caused the walls of his heart to thicken. He wasn’t able to actually finish the series, but when he got his diagnosis and the doctors said that he would most likely only get about four more years of life, he wrote down as many notes as he could so that someone else could finish the last book for him.

RJ’s driveway with the white dragon gates open.

When he passed away, his wife and editor Harriet McDougal chose author Brandon Sanderson to finish the last novel for her late husband. When all the notes and information had been poured over, it was clear that one book was not going to be enough to actually finish the series and so Brandon actually wrote the last three books of the series and he is pretty much universally praised for his work on it. He has been widely respected and seen as a master of the craft and possibly the only person who could have written the story in how he did and given it the respect and breath it required. So, all that being said, Robert Jordan’s house was in Charleston SC and I wanted to find it. It should be noted, that his house is not a public place where you can just go tour it or anything. I mean Harriet still lives there from what I understand and it is of course private property.

However, I didn’t want to trespass or create any form of disturbance. I knew he lived in Charleston SC and I knew his front gate was white and had dragons carved into the front of it. Alicia and I had a few more clues, but nothing close to what might be considered an address. This is because of course; this is a private residence. Now, let me take a moment and talk about Charleston for a moment. It might sound bad that I am trying to find a personal residence and want to take a picture in front of it. However, that’s a fairly normal thing to do in Charleston. In fact, many houses even have plaques on the side of their gates or walls that tell you who used to live there or who the house is famous for in some way. So, people walking around looking at houses and taking pictures in front of them is fairly normal. That being said, I am not going to tell you how to find RJ’s house.

The garden of the mansion.

We walked around following the small bread crumbs I had found through google searches and it seemed hopeless. We were nearly out of time and needed to be heading back towards the boat. I was convinced that we weren’t going to find it and had come to peace about that. We decided to turn down one final street that was heading back towards our boat anyway, and there it was. Directly in front of me was a white gate, two dragons carved into the front of it. “There it is!” I yelped. I stopped on the other side of the street, feeling like I couldn’t get closer. As if crossing the street would be treading on holy ground. “Well get over there so I can take your picture,” Alicia said. I didn’t want to move. The gate was open, I could see RJ’s front porch, and the Dragon Banner was flying from his porch just like I had heard it would be.

The white gates to the mansion with carved dragons on them.

Alicia finally convinced me to stand by the gate and get my picture taken in front of the house. I did peak in the garden through the rot iron fence and if you look closely in some of the pictures, you can see the carriage house that is behind the mansion which is where The Wheel of Time books were actually written. RJ did his writing back there. Apparently, the entire building is full of books, and maps, and at the very back his computer and desk chair. I looked through that garden and for the life of me felt like I was being given a glimpse into some hidden world, like dying for only a moment and getting to see Heaven without being allowed to stay. As soon as my pictures were taken and I had taken that moment to drink in the awe, I purposefully moved on and didn’t linger. I didn’t want to disturb Harriet. I didn’t want to spoil the magic of the place with the reality of myself.

Another view of the garden and the brick building in the back of the photo with the chimney is the carriage house, where the wheel of time was written.

We walked back to the ship and I felt like I was walking through a dream. I had glimpsed magic I was never meant to see. I had dipped my toe into the world of a master of the art. I have written books. I have written stories and articles, but for all the world I feel like an ant next to a giant. There is a hope inside my heart that someday my writings will be beloved and pined over. There isn’t an understanding that I am on or will be on the same plane as a man like RJ, but I have some hope that I can stand in the shadow of that greatness and at least feel the warmth of the sun. I will never forget that day and being able to stand so close to where such beloved magic was created. Maybe some of that magic has rubbed off on me. If nothing else, I have been deeply inspired.  

D. Michl Lowe