“Hellfire & Stratton: A Fool’s Game” Has Been Published!

It is finally finished. Hellfire & Stratton: a Fool’s Game has been published and is available for $2.99 at amazon.com.

Hellfire & Stratton: a Fool’s Game is available on Kindle and paperback.

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Is Your Spirit Nature Pure?

It’s common for many members of spiritual disciplines to designate the spirit as pure and the body or the material world as not pure or contaminated. However, it cannot be that simple, when you consider almost every religion has spiritual entities that are both good and evil. If both good and evil spiritual entities exist, it stands to reason that all that is spiritual is not necessarily pure.

But what about the spirit of a human? Among some Christian groups is the belief that once you accept Jesus Christ your spirit is pure, although the body and soul are not pure. Those not having accepted Christ are not spiritually pure, as their spirit belongs to Satan. It seems to be an all-or-nothing belief that is not necessarily accurate.

“Blasphemy,” some may shout, “once you are saved your spirit belongs to Jesus Christ.” That is true but let’s see what the Apostle Paul had to say about it.

2 Corinthians 7:1

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. English Standard Version (ESV)

In this passage, Paul is writing to the believers in Corinth, not to unbelievers. This clearly demonstrates that the spirit of a believer in Christ can have his spirit defiled and it is up to the believer to cleanse himself.

One example of those with spiritual issues or defilement, would be the Pharisees, scribes, teachers of the Law, and Sadducees who rejected Jesus. It seems it was easier for those of unclean or sinful flesh, (examples: crooked tax collectors and harlots) to accept him than for the so-called religious crowd(1). Keep in mind many reverently believed in God.


In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul writes:

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. English Standard Version (ESV)

Once again, Paul is writing to believers, not unbelievers. If Paul prays that a person’s spirit be kept blameless, that indicates the spirit is capable of sin or defilement.

The best argument against the spirit not being pure is in changing definitions of words,” Paul meant this by his writing instead of that.” Does that really win the argument? Does our pride, our legalism, our self-focus, our self-righteousness, our bitterness, and our hatred come from the flesh or of the spirit?” It’s true we feel it in the flesh, but could it originate in the spirit before manifesting in the flesh?


By Pal’s definition, it appears to be the spirit(2).  Thinking otherwise may lead a person to think they are purer in spirit than they really are. What is the eventual cost? We don’t know, but we do know the Pharisees, and scribes believed they were pure. They eventually had an innocent man murdered. We also know that we reap what we so. We know that what we plant spiritually will affect us in mind and body.

Believing we are pure in spirit, seems to be impure in itself; pride is often listed as a spiritual sin. Saying our spirit is pure may flatter the self, but it appears to be inaccurate, self-righteous, and perhaps dangerous. We simply may not be as pure as we think.

(1) https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/2-corinthians-7/

(2) https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/2-corinthians-7-1.html


The Tiger and the Fox – Spiritual Story by Massud Farzan

A fox who lived in the deep forest of long ago had lost its front legs. No one knew how: perhaps escaping from a trap.

A man who lived on the edge of the forest, seeing the fox from time to time, wondered how in the world it managed to get its food. One day when the fox was not far from him he had to hide himself quickly because a tiger was approaching. The tiger had fresh game in its claws. Lying down on the ground, it ate its fill, leaving the rest for the fox.

Again the next day the great Provider of this world sent provisions to the fox by this same tiger. The man began to think:

“If this fox is taken care of in this mysterious way, its food sent by some unseen Higher Power, why don’t I just rest in a corner and have my daily meal provided for me?”

Because he had a lot of faith, he let the days pass, waiting for food. Nothing happened. He just went on losing weight and strength until he was nearly a skeleton.

Close to losing consciousness, he heard a Voice which said:

“O you, who have mistaken the way, see now the Truth! You should have followed the example of that tiger instead of imitating the disabled fox.”

– by Massud Farzan

The Social Reform Candidate

A steampunk-like short alternative history story exploring the darker hidden motives and attitudes of social and political reformers in an alternative historical timeline..

The carriage came to my office door promptly at eight o’clock. Bennett Wilson was always a prompt man. His driver opened the door of the Clarence coach. The driver showed me, then he opened a Moroccan leather-covered box after I seated myself in the back.

“You never know,” he said.

“Yes, it’s true.” Inside the box was a well-polished custom nickel-trimmed R Johnson Flintlock Pistol. The detailed engraving on the nickel was superb.

“Already loaded I assume?” I picked it up to admire it, the barrel pointing away from the driver.

“Indeed sir.”

Carefully I placed it back in the black leather burgundy velvet lined box, the barrel facing downward as the box was designed. The driver nodded and closed the door. Quickly he climbed into the driver’s seat and took the reins. I admired the fine leather seating and brushed velvet with the brass-trimmed carriage interior as the two horses went into a trot. The wheels rumbled against the brick street boulevard.

The Smog and drizzle hazed around the kerosene-lit streetlights. The moon was barely visible through the brown smog. Factories belched out thick smoke all around us as we passed through the industrial center. The sound of steam engines became louder than the sound of the carriage wheels. Soot from coal furnaces and boilers covered the buildings. You could taste the gritty smoke. On the street, several dirty faced workers were walking home, some of them children.

“Ah, look there. It’s the rich,” I heard one man say. He pointed at the carriage as we passed. His face was dirty with smudges of grease and black dirt. His soot covered denim overalls and leather boots looked as though they would need to be removed before he entered his home.

“Yes, I may seem rich tonight,” I thought to myself as the carriage passed.

Outside the bars, occasional women, overly dressed for the neighborhood, stood in the drizzle underneath the kerosene street lamps. Some had umbrellas to keep from getting wet. Their high society dress in a working-class area made their occupation obvious. They waived at the carriage as we trotted by them, one of them raising her bustled skirt just above the knee.
“Hey give me a ride,” another one yelled. I looked out the window and our eyes met. She flashed a smile as I stared into her big brown eyes. I smiled back.

“Not bad,” I thought.

We approached the west end of town. “Hold steady now Mr. Thompson!” The driver warned me. He brought the horses to a canter. Quickly we passed through the slum district, an area with much less lighting and well-known for crime. The carriage wheels growled loudly along the cobblestone street. We passed two small gangs walking the sidewalks. Would any of them have tried to board the carriage if we were not moving so quickly? Such things made the newspaper headlines weekly.


Thirty minutes must have passed. “We have arrived,” the driver said.

The Wilson mansion was well lit with many outside lamps. He must have used a barrel of kerosene every month to keep them lit. The inside was brighter. Wilson had some steam powered Woolrich direct current generators in the back. Most of the mansion was lit by electricity. Only the richest could afford that.

“My labor platform for the Senate will help the workers of this state, and the entire country,” the former governor said. The interview seemed to be going well. I sensed my editor at the Arlington Times would be pleased.

I could not help noticing that his personal library was enormous. Eight rows of seven-foot-high double-sided books shelves filled most of the room. In the closest section I recognized some names; Freud, Jung, Pavlov, Klein, Piaget, Asch, Watson, and Milgram. We sat in plush velvet covered chairs at a Horner carved oak winged griffin library table. We sipped on Laphroaig Scotch on ice from elegant French crystal tumblers.

“The hours are entirely too long, Wilson said. “The manufacturers are taking advantage of the workers.”


“The ghastly practice of opening the doors fifteen minutes late and penalizing the workers for half a day’s wages must stop. Forcing the worker to stay late for free because of unreasonable quotas is flagrant. A fourteen-hour workday is inhuman. I would never do that to my workers.”

Former Governor Bennett Wilson, the candidate for the U.S. Senate, was an ice baron. He started young. He worked hard and squeezed out his competitors until there was only one other operation left in the Arlington area. Next, he worked his way down the river before widening his territory leaving only one main competitor. Shortly after, the two men became friends and one drunken New Year’s Eve they joked at fixing prices. The rest was history. They bought out companies in other cities and replicated the process eventually forming a trust that controlled eighty percent of the Northeastern seaboard ice market.

“What about trusts?” I asked as I pulled out my notepad and pencil to take notes of the interview.

His gray bushy brows raised. His bright blue eyes rounded.

“Some say the larger entities and co-operatives, for example, the sugar trust, the steel trust, tobacco, and farm equipment pick the pockets of the rich and poor alike,” I said.

“Nonsense!” Wilson said. He stroked the hair of his well-trimmed brown beard with his index finger and thumb. I suddenly noticed how young he looked for his age. “That is business, and business is business. What I am talking about is releasing the poor of all those long hours. And the children, don’t forget the children. They belong in school.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “That is a good cause.”

“I’m not saying people cannot work long hours. What I am saying is they should be paid for all of them. An employee staying over for three hours at no pay simply because the management intentionally overschedules the amount of work is not acceptable. Nor shall it be permitted if my legislation is passed.”

“Once again, I agree sir,” I said as I recorded his words. Still, I considered the irony of his position.

“What of the wages of those supplying us with imported goods?” I asked him, testing for a reaction. “Can we stand for such principles when we consume sugar produced by almost slave labor? What about the banana boat worker that gets less than the factory workers? What about rice? The farmers in those countries make pennies per day.

“They are animals!” Wilson’s fist hit the paper tablet on the table in front of him. Our drinks shook. “Those are not civilized persons such as we are! Just look at them. Why you can even smell some of them.”

“But isn’t your platform for the poor? You almost don’t seem to like them.”

“Of course, it is.” Wilson Answered. “My platform is to help them, but I do not have to like them.”

“I see. We support those who exploit workers in other lands while campaigning to protect our own?”

“What goes on in other places is not our responsibility.”

“What about here, in our own country? We both go to Manhattan. Didn’t we purchase Manhattan for less than the price of a poor man’s city block from the Indians?”

“That was not us. That was the Dutch! And what does it matter?”

His shaking eyes met mine. His skin flushed pink against his brown beard and mustache. I feared he might ask me to leave.

“Wait,” he said. Slowly he smiled. “That is brilliant! You are brilliant Mr. Thompson.”

“How is that?” I asked. Although puzzled, I admit I enjoyed the compliment.

“My platform! I can use those things as examples of the exploitation I am fighting!” He scribbled some notes onto his tablet with a pencil, then slid it off to the left.

“But you just said you didn’t care.”

“Well maybe not, but I can act so publicly,” Wilson said. “It will appear more caring and compassionate.”

“That it will.”

“Certainly, you will not report that? You will not mention all I just said.”

“No, sir. My job is to report the facts of what you intend to do. I present both sides of any issues objectively. I am not a hack that resorts to trickery and character assassinations. Nor do I attempt to direct the outcomes of any events I cover.”

“Excellent, I knew you could be trusted with off the record remarks. You have an excellent reputation for discretion. Ironic for a newspaper reporter, isn’t it?” Wilson smiled.

“Please continue.”

“Schools need to be improved,” Wilson said. “Government schools need to be established. It is 1972 and the entire world has made little industrial or social progress in the past one hundred and forty years.”

“It is true Mr. Wilson. The French have hardly been leaders.”

“Still, we must admire Napoleon, and credit the French for their contribution,” Wilson said.

Wilson admired Napoleon, the way he defeated the Duke of Wellington and the Prussians. They were no match for his genius. Napoleon could not defeat them at sea, however. Instead, the naval battles went on for almost 20 years until a truce was declared. Both countries were too financially drained to continue.

Shortly after the war, came the fifty-year plague. Starting in Europe and spreading to Africa and the Mideast, it was not long before it crossed the Atlantic. Half the world’s population died in the first 20 years. Industry came to a standstill. By the end, two-thirds of the global population had fallen throwing the entire world into a medieval existence.

“Had the French not held the power, who knows what would have happened?” Wilson said. “We might all be speaking Japanese.”

The Japanese aggression started shortly after the plague. They were not as affected by the outbreak as Europe had been. With their superior gunned steamships and almost endless fuel supply from their conquered lands, they had the world in panic for almost fifteen years. It was the French under Napoleon II who finally defeated them at sea. Next, he conquered their major cities, destroying their technology and stealing the plans.

“The world needs strong resolute leaders,” Wilson continued. “It needs strong iron-clad rules that all must follow. Regulations is the word I mean.”

“But surely Sir, aren’t emperors, kings, and too many regulations a recipe for disaster? Aren’t they a hindrance to freedom?”

“I’m not so sure.” He shook his head and smiled. “Consider the masses. Do you really think they can do anything for themselves?”

“Excuse me?”

“What I mean is, they need to be told what to do. In fact, Mr. Thompson, they want to be told. Most of them tremble at the thought of making a real decision. They need leaders to decide for them. We can make them think they are smart for following us, and they will.

“I suppose you are referring to the laborers and the poor?”

“Oh yes! Especially those, Mr. Thompson. It is up to us, the educated and elite, to plan for them, to influence them, to herd them, to help them get what they need to survive. It is we who know best.”

“I suppose you do not think they are capable on their own? Given a better environment that is.”

“Certainly not! The average one of them is an idiot. Listen to them talk. They are not fit to be more than peasants in a modern feudal society.” Wilson said. “Chattel is what they are, the whole lot of them.”

“Then what is the point of education?” I asked.

“We can convince them it is valuable, convince them it leads to prosperity, that it helps their children. As it will to some degree. Education will also provide an administrative type class to do our bidding and enforce our order, among other things.”

“Such as…”

“Such as a tool to influence them. Years of indoctrination will mold them into what we need from them. In time, they will imagine no other way of life but what government education has taught them. Don’t you see the beauty?”

“Beauty sir?” I asked.

“Education will make them more profitable and productive. Productivity allows us to both profit more, and to pay them more. More income allows them to purchase more things. That means even more profit. We can even tax them more. As for the ones left behind, the ones we must carry and support, the worthless despicable ones per say, they will support us with their votes in an exchange for what we provide from the worker’s taxes. Everyone has more goods and we have more power. It’s beautiful!”

“Won’t people see through this eventually?”

“Of course not! We won’t give them the same education as the rich, but rather one more suited for their intellect and our needs. In time, Mr. Thompson, they will defend us and fight for us. They will want us to provide even more education. They will willingly punish their children for disobeying us. It’s in their simple nature.” He raised his arm and extended his hand toward his library’s psychology section.

I looked at the shelves. I wondered what all those great authors might think knowing their work would be used in such a sinister manner. Wilson paused and poured us more scotch.

“Even if they did see through it,” Wilson continued. “They are too disorganized, unsophisticated, and quarrel among themselves too much to ever change things.”

“Are you certain?”

“In my view history proves it. We must save the mongrels from themselves. Such riff-raff need a champion. It is us.”

“Riff-raff sir?”

“Well, they certainly aren’t as educated and astute as we are. Just look at the despicable creatures. They need help and it will benefit everyone. And we, the elite of both parties, will rightfully reign over them.”

“But sir, don’t you see this as a bit like slavery or indentured servitude?”

“Of Course, not!” Wilson hit the table again, this time with the flat of his palm. “Look at them now! Look at the long hours they work and the filth that surrounds them. If we don’t save them, some tyrant will trick them with false promises. Then where will the animals be? Worse off than they are now!”

My interview continued late into the night.


As Wilson’s driver took me home, I reflected on the evening. What are the things that motivate men such as Bennett Wilson to be reformers? Is it moral balance – a need to compensate for their evil, crass, or self-serving actions by doing something good? Is it an inferiority complex masked as a superiority complex, the need to manipulate and dominate others to feel any self-worth at all? Is it easier to see the problems on the outside than to have to courage to look within oneself first? Could it sometimes be an attempt to resolve in inner problem externally? Is it simply a deceptive tactic to accumulate wealth? Or is it simply hunger for power, attention, praise, or fame?

As we passed by the bars and factories, I stared at the hazy glow of the smog surrounding the kerosene street lamps. Only a few workers heading home from the bars were still on the streets. Their faces were still dirty from the grime and coal of the factories, but they seemed to be smiling after a night of drinking. At least they had souls. They did not hide behind a clean or pious façade, or the name of proper society, to manipulate and benefit from the lives of others.

The brown-eyed woman I saw earlier was gone. I remembered a recent book by J Krishnamurti. He wrote that all a reformer ever really does is to redecorate the prison walls. The problems they create are often worse than the ones they try to solve. Few people ever escape the prison.

Men like Bennett Wilson will always be in power.

Author – Paul Nieto https://paulnieto.com

Are You and Eternal Being?

If truth is permanent, non-changing, unabated, immutable, and perhaps even beyond time, then life as we are taught, ever-changing, temporary, and doomed for death must not be truth. If it does not carry the essences of not truth, it by default must be non-truth, deception, or illusory.

For life to not be illusory, it by default has to be something else other than what most of us have been taught it to be or presently perceive it to be. For how can something that will end be truth, once it longer exists? Surely non-existence cannot be truth.

Another option for solving this puzzle would be to change truth’s definition, after which truth would no longer be, except for perhaps another concept in this seemingly unstable and ever changing world.

Perhaps this is part of the reasoning behind all the world religions that state that we are eternal beings. If we are not eternal, then we do not truly exist, as we have proven that if not eternal or beyond time, it is not truth and must, therefore, be of an illusory nature, or merely the result of fluctuations in an ever-changing world based on causation.

So, when we ask, “what is life?” – perhaps that is why we get a thousand different answers, further proving that life is either a.) An illusion or, b.) We don’t know as much as we say or think we know. There must be something more to it that we do not see.

One could argue that perhaps something else that I have left out or something that we have not yet discovered may yield a more complete and definite answer on life. Still, for that thing to be truth, it too would need to have a nature pointing to permanence, timelessness, or that which is beyond time as well.

Yet, if I were to say you do not exist, or that you are an illusion, based on the same arguments, you would think me to be rather mad, and perhaps rightfully so. Since you do seem to exist and believe that your existence is truth, despite your slowly changing form and fluctuating states of mind, your true essence, as opposed to your fluctuating mass must, therefore, be eternal or beyond time itself. Otherwise, you are illusory or a simple result of temporary causation at best. So, for the essence or your existence to be truth you must be, like it or not, an eternal being, entity, form, or energy.

If we are not eternal, or beyond time, we are illusory or merely phenomena based on causation or more simply stated non-truth and illusion. So, if we truly exist, logic dictates that what we are at our truest essence does not actually die or is eternal and or is beyond time, because any apparently, truth that can cease to be is not truth.