It is with considerable painful regret that we announce that, effective the end of October, 2017, we will cease publication of COLUMNIST WITH A VIEW. Simply put, we can no longer afford the costs associated with this grand endeavor. On a retirement income, with increasing personal expenses, it seems a good step. Sometimes, it seems, dreams simply do not come true!

We are pleased and proud that we reached readers throughout the entire United States and over 15,000 users around the world with timely, interesting and important pieces of writing.

We have a few articles “in the hopper,” which we hope to get into the webzine before the end of publication.

Our thanks and appreciation to all of the writers and contributors who supported this effort. If you enjoyed the webzine and would like to comment, we would be delighted to hear from you at:  amsmilt@windstream.net


WHERE IN THE U.S.A. AM I? by Milt Hankins

WHERE IN THE U.S.A. AM I? by Milt Hankins

Recently, Deborah and I took a very special two-week vacation.  We flew across the United States from Atlanta, Georgia to southern California. Then we took Amtrak up the Pacific coast and across the northern tier of states to Minnesota. We visited friends along the way and then flew back home to Kentucky.

I have visited forty-eight of the fifty states (all but Alaska and South Dakota).  Below are pictures of ten marvelous places and things I have enjoyed during my travels. Can you study the pictures and determine the city and state I am visiting? The answers can be found at LIGHTER FARE. Scroll down to HELLO, WORLD.












Let’s see how many places you identified correctly:  GO TO “LIGHTER FARE” and scroll down to “HELLO, WORLD” for the answers.



[James Merritt lives in Maryland. He is a teacher, actor and writer of short fiction. His writing can be seen in “Interesting Stories” and a collection has been published by CreateSpace and can be seen at Amazon.com. We are delighted to have introduced James Merritt to a worldwide audience. This collection is a look at death from the macabre perspective.]


James Merritt



Eyes, eyes everywhere watching me. Even as I sleep. No where safe from their prying sight; as long as I am stuck in this meat. The long dead missing me, waiting for my sleep, when once more I will join the eyes that pierce, and shriek.

Eyes in the fields watching me; where most only see ears of corn, fields of eyes from their graves, in my truck, draining me, making me feel weak. Eyes in my head, they call hallucinations, green, brown, blue, and sometimes red. Eyes of the dead watching me. Perhaps they are only in my head.



Fred was a mutt born in a litter of twelve. He was brown and had no remarkable features, except for a single white spot in the shape of Texas on his rump. Born in a shelter, he did not know true human kindness. At the age of six weeks he was adopted by George’s parents.

George and Fred were born at the exact same time, on the exact same day. From the time George’s parents brought Fred home they were inseparable. George had Asperger’s and no discerning marks, except a birthmark matching Fred’s on his butt. Due to George’s social handicap his mom home-schooled him. Fred was George’s one friend, companion. They spent every second together. Fred even followed George in the bathroom and sat perplexed at the human’s daily baths and the strange seat he sat on and marked his territory.

On their eleventh birthday Fred ran off after a bitch. Her owner had treats! Fred loved treats and though he loved George, he did not comprehend the fact that running away would be so permanent.

George longed for Fred…crying constantly and inconsolable for weeks. He stopped eating and his parents took him to doctors, shrinks doing everything they could, but George had simply given up.

One day while George was being pushed in his new wheelchair through the park, looking half-dead, George saw Fred. He saw a future where they could be back together, spending the rest of their lives laughing and playing. So George called to Fred, but Fred refused to come, as he now had a mate, puppies of his own and a new owner with better treats.

George changed that day. He darkened. Out of anger and resentment he swore revenge on every dog owner. He began to eat again, but only foods he disliked. He would live, but he chose to never let himself be happy again. His parents were both relieved and saddened at their only child’s new outlook. Glad that he would survive, but saddened that he never smiled or laughed again.

George grew up to be a dog catcher, sometime snatching dogs from people’s yards–making sure the world felt his pain, and spreading the darkness forth on the world.

On George’s 45th birthday, shriveled and old from despair he decided to end his life. Many believe this would cause him eternal damnation, but instead he found himself in a dog park with Fred. There they are to this day, and forevermore will stay.



The fly found its soul mate from its previous life and buzzed around his head. Landing on the human, sharing his coffee, lightly caressing his hand.

The fly was driving the man nuts! It was buzzing around his head, landing on his coffee cup, and crawling up and down his arm.

The man picked up the bright green tool of death and swatted the fly, not quite killing it with the first blow. Realizing only after the first attack of his loves true form. So he hit it again and again destroying his love in hopes of it coming back in a more pleasant form. Perhaps they could be together in another life. Huzzah! One less fly in the world.



Poor Geoff was such a fool he believed what they taught in school. He worked hard every day and never once played. One step he took in front of the other, something he learned from his father and mother. Always expecting the ground to catch him each step he would take. After twenty years accounting, never missing a day, his boss told him he must take a vacation. So Geoff, always following the rules, went away to Rehobeth Beach to stay for one night and one day. The very first night on a walk down the shore, after the clerk called him a bore, he took a step as people are wont to do, always assuming the earth beneath their feet will catch them. The sand fleas chewed his legs. His 599th step would be his last on that fateful May day. He was swallowed up, right up to his chin. The earth seemed to laugh. The fates knew he could not swim. The waves crashed closer as the tide came in. He didn’t care as he knew he could not win. He didn’t call out or even struggle as there was no way out of his trouble. The first wave hit him and went right up his nose, soaking his face, but not his buried clothes. The second wave hit and he coughed and sputtered.  The ocean was soon above his head and that was the end of gullible Geoff.  

(c) 2017, James Merritt





[Editor’s Note:  Following are personal observations and conclusions I have reached. You may not agree with some or all of them and that’s okay. Think about some of the important observations and conclusions you have come to during your lifetime. Hey, I might not agree with some or all of yours either, but, it’s an informative and fun reflection on your life experiences.]

From infancy I attended Sunday school and church. I went on to college and seminary and was, somewhat simultaneously, a pastor/teacher for 50-plus years. Living life observantly has taught me more about religion, the church and the spiritual life that I could’ve ever absorbed from books. Here are a few serious (and silly) lessons I’ve learned:

♦ Most church signs display either bad spelling, poor grammar or faulty theology. Some, all three!


♦ Churches say they want to grow, but they don’t want to bring in new people with new ideas. They say “We’ve never done it that way before.”

♦ Christians preach generosity and practice frugality.

♦ Faith comes not from knowing; faith comes from not knowing. Faith does not arrive at what we’ll know, but journeys toward what we’ll never know.

♦ In spite of what some Christians believe, not everything in the Bible is demonstrably true.

♦ Atheists spend too much time talking about God.  Think about it. Unicorns and trolls don’t exist, so we don’t spend a whole lot of time talking about them.

♦ Don’t count on tomorrow. It might not come.

♦ Everyone knows the “Golden Rule”; almost no one follows it.

♦ If Jesus returns on a Saturday evening, he won’t be in church on Sunday morning.

♦ There’s absolutely no saving grace in years of faithful church attendance.

♦ Love your neighbor, but erect a sturdy fence.

♦ Treat animals like you believe in reincarnation.


♦ In the long run, it IS true that “what goes ’round comes round.’

♦ It is not true that you can’t worship on the golf course or at the seashore as well as you can in church.

♦ Never make change out of the offering plate.

♦ Preachers who cannot properly interpret Shakespeare (17th Century English) shouldn’t be interpreting the King James Version of the Bible.

♦ Christians say heaven is a wonderful place, but they don’t seem overly anxious to go there.

♦ We humans are just discovering what the Creator has known all along.

♦ Just because a creed is old and oft-repeated does not make it true.

♦ The Ten Commandments do NOT need to be displayed; they need to be obeyed.



♦ According to physics, for every action there is an equal, opposite reaction; for every good there is an equal, opposite evil.

♦ The most abhorrent sin is bigotry. Bigotry thrives on a false sense of superiority. Bigotry is a disgusting form of hypocrisy.

♦ If parishioners cannot remember what the morning sermon was about, then the homily was either poorly constructed, feebly delivered or simply not worth remembering!

♦ Humans believe (and live) too many half-truths.

♦ It is better to be wrong and stand corrected than to be corrected and then take a wrong stand.

♦ If you fall for everything, you won’t believe in anything.

♦ The ways we are alike have a difficult time surfacing through the ways we are different.

Sometime, set aside some time to jot down the general, personal, religious/spiritual lessons you have learned in your lifetime, so far. I suspect it will be a longer list than you imagined. According to phrases.org.UK, Julius Caesar recorded the earliest known version of this proverb: “Experience is the best teacher.”

(c) 2017, L. Milton Hankins (all rights reserved)

[L. Milton Hankins is a theologian, former pastor, author and columnist and the publisher of Columnist with a View (columnistwithaview.com). He lives with his wife Deborah and Jose, their three year old chihuahua, in Ashland, Kentucky. This article first appeared in the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch. Milt’s e-mail address is amsmilt@windstream.net]





The Legal Information Institute informs “The 25th Amendment, proposed by Congress and ratified by the states in the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, provides the procedures for replacing the president or vice-president in the event of death, removal, resignation, or incapacitation.”

Two presidents–Richard Nixon by resignation and Ronald Reagan by temporary incapacitation were subjects of the 25th Amendment.

It is time Congress and the Supreme Court seriously consider the mental “incapacitation” of President Donald Trump, declaring him “unfit for the presidency” and incapable of fulfilling the constitutional duties of the office.

Here’s why this writer suggests such a strong action:

President Donald Trump is a proven, pathological liar–to the extent that the American public, as well as leaders of foreign nations, cannot accept the president’s statements as reliable. As a matter of fact, The New York Times, PolitiFact, and I have catalogued hundreds of Trump’s public prevarications.

The president is incapable of carrying out the duties of his office. He has spent a major portion of his time in the Oval Office undoing the work of his predecessor. He obviously cannot work with Congress to move important legislation he promised during his campaign. He has failed to achieve a single, notable issue on his agenda except for the successful appointment of a justice to the United States Supreme Court.



Trump’s foreign trips have been unmitigated disasters! He lambasted NATO for its lack of contributions to defense spending, embarrassed foreign leaders, disavowed the Paris Climate Agreement, and declined to hold a single press conference. His one accomplishment, an arms deal with Saudi Arabia, was narrowly approved by the United States Senate.

Trump said during his campaign he would be so busy he would rarely leave the White House. He has spent nearly every weekend of his presidency far from the White House–most weekends at his plush Mar-a-Lago estate or golfing at various Trump resort locations.

Intentionally insulting the press and various personalities in the news media have precipitated a real breach between the president, news agencies, reporters and his own spokespersons. He calls the American press “the enemy of the American people” and regularly calls newspaper reports not to his liking “fake news.” The press is the only profession explicitly protected in the United States Constitution.


President Trump is legally and morally dubious. He is well-known for broken contracts, bankruptcies, and was sued for his role in the phony Trump University. He has been married three times, each time having a relationship with his future wife before divorcing his current wife. As a result, he has five children by three wives. Obviously, the Republican focus on family values has shifted dramatically!

Many other indicators favor application of the 25th Amendment, but perhaps most important is the fact that Trump, his campaign staff and, especially, Michael Flynn are under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Intelligence Committees of both houses of the Congress.

Never before would such a person have been considered for the presidency, or, tolerated in the highest office of the land. Dare the Congress and the Supreme Court much longer allow this unqualified individual to occupy the Oval Office?



(c) 2017, L. Milton Hankins (all rights reserved)