Dear Papa Bear,
I just turned 23 on July 27th! Here's my question: I'm not a huge fan of Iron Maiden, but being a Christian, I decided to do some research and I found out that not only is their drummer a Christian (for real!), but their song "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" is a Christian song ... allegorical it may be! So, since I enjoy a variety of music, how do you know which rock/metal - or other genres - bands to listen to and which ones are just plain trashy like Slipknot?
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If you mean how do you tell by the lyrics, then the simplest thing to do is go to a website that posts music lyrics, the most obvious one being lyrics.com. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell just by lyrics, though, especially when you get some very poetic or symbolic or abstruse or, as in the case you cite, allegorical lyrics that are difficult to understand. Often, lyrics are very personal to the artist, self-referential, and hard to get unless you know the artist well.
If you're truly concerned as to whether a song is "Christian" enough for you, there are plenty of Christian rock bands you can listen to, as well as plain ol' church music. GodTube.com lists what it considers the 20 best Christian rock bands here.
As for mainstream rock, pop, and other genres, my thought is that you shouldn't worry about it. Just listen to what you enjoy. If you are a Christian in your heart, accidentally listening to some "bad" music is not going to make you turn Satanic. Music is to be enjoyed, not analyzed.
I'm curious to know if there are any furry publications that have multiple stories/art shown on a regular basis. I have a story I want to include for them but my research has been frustrating.
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Back in the 1980s, '90s, and into the 2000s, there used to be a lot more options for furry writers to submit their stories in publications. There were several APAs, followed by BBS's and online archives where furry authors regularly submitted their stories. Today, many of those (FurRag, AnthroArchives, YiffStar, VCL, the Raccoon's Bookshelf, and most APAs with the noted exception of the quarterly Rowrbrazzle) are either gone or nearly inactive. The last death blow for the ones that were still limping around in recent years was probably COVID-19 (Raccoon's Bookshelf, for example, died somewhere around 2019 or 2020).
Furry writers these days seem to post stories on FurAffinity and SoFurry. These sites, of course, don't pay for your stories, but if you just wish to share your fiction, that's the way to go.
Since furry periodicals are rather a dead end these days (although you might wish to approach the publishers at Rowrbrazzle and give them a shot), the best solution for short fiction authors is to submit your work for publication in an anthology. The number of publishers even here is shrinking lately (for example, Bad Dog Books was swallowed up by FurPlanet Productions ten years ago), but there are still some out there, including FurPlanet, Sofawolf Press, and Thurston Howl Publications.
One last option: self-publishing. This could involve just setting up a personal website and putting your stories on it, or you can create an ebook quite easily these days.
I'm not certain exactly why furry short fiction seems to be languishing a bit these days. I fear one cause might be that Fred Patten's death has extinguished a voice that was our best promoter of furry fiction. We could really use one or more furries to pick up that banner and start waving it again, not just for the sake of the authors but also for furry readers.
Good luck to you, Rif.
My question is regarding creating furry content, primarily books. Over the course of four years, I have discovered that it is difficult to obtain any success as a self-publishing author. It feels even more difficult when your books contain furry related content.
I love writing in general, whether is furry related or not, but I really had high expectations for this particular story that I meticulously created since high school. Even with all of the doubts and hardships, I've managed to publish at least two of my stories. Sadly, I have no family members or friends who are supportive in buying my story or helping me to advertise it. I get that I can't force them to own one, but the lack of interest does create this cloud of self doubt. Maybe the world just isn't ready for mainstream furry content? IDK. When I see shows like Beaststars and similar ideas, I feel like that should be me also.
Is there some sort of secret marketing strategy that I am not aware of? Or is it just one of those deals where I'm going to have to pay to get noticed?
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Dear Ebon Wolf,
Excellent questions, ones that I'm sure plague many writers of all sorts, not just those who pen furry fiction. Publishing is a very fickle thing. There are many excellent writers who struggle to get their works published and read, and there are many shoddy authors who make a very good living writing garbage that is popular with readers.
If your question is "What sells?" Well, you need to start off with a good story with sympathetic characters that readers can route for, of course. Big publishers like Random House or Simon & Schuster tend to be very conservative; they like to publish stuff that is similar to books that have sold before. Rarely do they take risks to publish something truly original. This is why you see a lot of stuff like "tell-all" celebrity autobiographies, thrillers and detective stories, and romance novels. When someone does have a breakthrough like J. K. Rowling, you can bet that their book will be followed by lots of copycats; this was also true after the Tolkien books became popular.
When it comes to furry fiction and learning what is popular, read what furries find exciting and take notes. For example, when one thinks of a best-selling furry writer, the name that pops to mind immediately is Kyell Gold. Read some of his stuff. But also read non-furry anthro fiction, such as Brian Jacques' Redwall series, Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn, or Richard Adams' Watership Down. The more anthro fiction you read by other authors, the more you will experience an osmosis of technique that will begin to affect your own writing in a good way.
Because it can be extremely challenging to find a publisher to print your works, many authors are going the self-publishing route. For this, you need some money, sure. Or a lot of knowledge about how to typeset and print a book yourself. With paper costs soaring lately, printing has become quite expensive. Another route you can go is the ebook. The good news is that even if you don't know how to create your own ebooks or epubs, there are inexpensive services out there that can help you. Just google "ebook conversion services" and start shopping around for companies that can convert your text into an ebook that you can sell online.
Next problem is getting the word out. One of the best ways to do this is to send your manuscript to a book reviewer, and, when it comes to furry fiction, the place for you to go is The Furry Book Review (https://furrybookreview.com/) which I do believe is willing to review self-published books. You can also take excerpts of your book and post them on various furry social sites with links on how to purchase the full book. You can try to get on furry podcasts for interviews. Some other tips can be found here https://www.editage.com/info/book-editing-services/articles/11-Powerful-book-promotion-ideas-for-self-published-authors.html. However, I do not recommend going through Amazon because they will rape you of all your profit. It's not worth it. They take huge chunks of your money. Now, if you're not doing this for money, then go ahead with them, but I would suggest trying other ways first before you resort to Amazon.
Hope these tips help. Good Luck!
Dear Papa Bear,
I keep thinking that everything I do isn’t good enough, whether it’s creating artwork or music, writing code or stories, or just generally doing anything that requires imagination. I get frustrated, angry, and tend to ragequit when my imagination just abandons ship as soon as i try to use it to do anything creative, usually resulting in either nothing or an unfinished product. This generally leads to me thinking about how I’m not good enough, among other self-criticism.
My question is this: How do I improve my imagination so that I can think that I’m worth more as a person?
Becquerel (aged 14)
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Unless you have aphantasia, a rare condition in which a person literally cannot picture things in their mind, then you have an imagination. But even if it were true that you have no creative imagination, you do not need to have one to be a worthwhile person, nor do you need to do anything artistic to live a fulfilling life. Many people contribute to society in other ways besides the arts. So, even if you don't have any talent in art, music, or literature (and I can't say whether or not this might be the case, having never read or seen anything you have created), it doesn't mean you do not have value.
That said, artists are always their own worst critics. Writers hate their writing, often throwing out their compositions. Artists burn their paintings. Musicians have tantrums and quit composing. It's all because they judge themselves too harshly. Sometimes it helps to hear other voices to give you feedback. I don't mean family or friends because if they say nice things you'll just think, "Well, they're being nice because they are family/friends." I mean joining an art group or writing group. If you're a musician looking for support, you can try some of the musician groups on Facebook listed here, or, if you want to get some fandom support, you might try Fuzznet, a furry music and support collective. If you're an artist, there are a lot of online groups you can join to chat and ask for feedback from other artists (an example would be FurReal at on Facebook), or just build a network of artist friends to chat with and talk about your progress. And same goes for writers groups, too, of course. Just do a little searching online and you will find lots of writing groups, both furry and not.
So, now that I have hopefully dismantled (or at least put a dent in) your notions that you A) have no imagination and B) are only a worthwhile person if you do, here are some tips on improving your creativity:
All of these things have something in common: turning off your inner critic. By allowing ideas to flow unhindered, you break down the damn that is holding back an entire reservoir of creativity.
Hope this helps. Good luck!
First of all I'd like to thank you for being such a positive influence for so many people and the fandom. Many charge a ton of money to do less than half of what you do and whatever your reasons are, I feel you're being honest and sincere in your answers. You've been thanked by many, I know, but the fact that you do what you do, makes me feel grateful that you're here, and having something to be grateful alone makes me feel a little better.
Well, I'll try to get to the point. I was born in a very white trash, poor, religiously fanatic and very abusive family in a 3rd world country. So I guess it goes without saying that I have issues. Several traumas, depression, anxiety, ptsd, add, the list goes on.
I won't get further into that because that is another whole can of anaconda sized worms on it's own so I'll focus on what's bothering me right now.
Recently I've come to the realization that my self-hatred is enormous, way bigger than I thought it was and it probably has a bigger impact on me than any other factor. I've been trying to lessen it's effects with some simple practices and try to understand to what point it affects me.
Now, seemingly unrelated to that I've became very interested or maybe obsessed with My Little Pony FIM as of late. Specifically fanfiction. I was always a fan of the show but my interest in it had died so long ago I even stopped watching the show. I don't know why I started reading the fanfictions exactly, I think I frantically read all fancomics that I found and still wanted to consume more of that universe so I looked at fanfiction.
Here's where it gets weird. I absolutely hate reading. It's one of the things I hate the most in life and even to read a fiction book like Eragon took me a loooot of effort and will. Only book I think I wholeheartedly read without any struggle was The Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy, which remains in my concept one the best works of fiction/entertainment of all time.
I digress. I started reading these fanfictions and having an amazing time, the first one I've read captivated me just like Hitchhiker's. I didn't focus on anything specific such as romance or sci-fi. They were just a few surprisingly well written stories in that universe by an author. The second author I found had good stories too but they were very focused on romance, comedy and a specific kind of drama I really spent hours thinking about. By that I mean that many time when I'm reading one of these stories, I stop reading them and begin to "spin off" from it and think on different things the characters in the story could have done and many times I stay hours in that state so much so the story in my head is now another one completely.
I told myself I was going to stop after that one story because It was consuming too much of time. I didn't, I kept getting back and finding more and more fanfictions to read. And usually feel bad all the time but recently I started to feel worst so I thought: "Either I read this fics to escape or they're what causing me to feel worst."
At first I thought it probably wasn't the latter, and I still don't think it is but something strange happened. I found some fics where I related to a character, usually a character who suffers from depression, has a lot of self hatred (not low self-esteem) and all that brings.
I've been to many lowest of lows and suicide is far from an alien thought to me to say the least. (Not only for emotional distress but physical pain as well, I've dealt with some hard stuff.)
But I've never contemplated self in reality of fantasy and I've never glamourized suicide outside of very very common "self sacrifice" fantasies.
So, at one time I read a comic when a character is feeling unworthy/guilty for depression reasons and the character doesn't do anything except think. But I go on one of my "spin offs" and put myself in his place and I start fantasizing about him/me piercing his/my shoulder and making a slice from it to my collar bone. It felt weird because I really, really, really wanted to feel the pain of doing that. I'm not a fan of pain, I'm averted by any sadist or masochistic thing or thought so this was really a first to me.
Then it happened one where I (the character), flew very very high up and just let go. And again, I really wanted to experience that, which is funny since I'm somewhat afraid of heights and it's not on my top 10 ways to suicide. (Don't have a list, just wanted to stress the feeling.)
And this keeps happening, I knew I hated myself but I never knew to what degree until this started to happen. I can't find why my subconscious want's to be punished so hard, why does it feel so guilty. I don't feel like I was or am a burden to anyone, I only sometimes feel a slight hint of guilt over decisions I've made in the past over something small and it goes away pretty fast. Do I consciously feel unworthy of love, affection, attention, existing? Very much, yes. But can that translate to fantasies of self harm when in reality I don't have the slightest wish to do so?
I know the source it's trauma but this is new to me and it feels like it's a big part of the whole picture. Am I not seeing something that's clearly there? If I'm just living "hidden" emotions through these characters, why are these emotions more hidden than the others? Should I stop reading fanfiction or at least avoid the ones with this theming?
These are a lot of questions, I don't expect you to answer all, if any of them. I hope I've at least expressed myself well enough to give you an idea of what I feel because my real question is:
What's your take on this?
Also I'd like to let you know that I'm planning or hurting or putting myself in danger in any way so please don't worry. I've been trying to be introspective with my feelings to see where they come from, the why and how and It's obviously not easy but with every realization I feel a little better, if not I feel like I've gained a key to unlock some other mystery in the future.
But every time I think I cannot be surprised anymore, well... So I don't know what to make of this, all I know is that I can't feel good fantasizing about hurting myself. If anything that is proof of my decaying state of mind and I'm looking for improvement not decay. Sorry for any confusing parts, I hope I've explained it at least well enough to not give you any headaches.
Thank you so much, Papabear. Hope you have an awesome holyday season and new year!
P.s. I still hate to read but I think I love to write. XD
Anonymous (age 27)
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Thank you for your letter. You raise a very interesting topic: the healing power of fiction and literature in general. It sounds as if you have had quite a difficult childhood, so I extend to you my sympathies. Almost without fail, people who suffer from low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety are this way because of external forces. That is, traumas you have experienced or feelings of being negatively judged originate from those whou surround you and do not spontaneously generate from within. The only reason you feel badly about yourself is that you have been the subject of physical, emotional, or psychological abuse or a combination of these.
Many people find comfort by escaping into fantasy worlds, or through other forms of art ranging from film to music to the visual arts. Fiction literature appears to be the remedy you have found for yourself. That is perfectly normal. In fact, there are studies that show that reading novels and stories can ease people's emotional and psychological issues. Indeed, it has also been shown that reading fiction can help us learn to improve social interactions and empathy with others. In the world of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic you have anthropomorphic unicorns, ponies, dragons etc., many of which have cheerful and spunky personalities, making friends and solving various problems and quests by working together. It's a very upbeat and optimistic cartoon, which is why it is so popular. Obviously, MLP represents a world that you find desirable, and reading MLP fan fiction and imagining yourself in that world is part of your self-therapy. You see, lacking a therapist in the real world, you have discovered your own treatment through this television show and its fanfic.
Okay, so why the dreams or fantasies about dying in one way or another in various MLP scenarios you imagine for yourself? Obviously, you start off daydreaming about the MLP world and then your feelings of depression and anxiety intrude upon it. This is similar to when children have a dream that starts off happily but ends up with a monster suddenly appearing and attacking them. The monster could represent things such as fear about a bully at school, a homework assignment or test, or perhaps an upcoming visit to the doctor or tension in the family. So, here you are, in your case, having an escapist fantasy and then the black clouds in the back of your mind intrude upon it.
You also mention you are experiencing fears and guilt about hiding your emotions and feelings. It sounds like you are keeping something out of the letter, such as feeling ashamed of who you are, something you are keeping secret from your family? I can only speculate, but this could obviously be the monster intruding into your daydreams as well in the form of self-destruction. Furthermore, the fantasy of dying in an act of self-sacrifice is a call to get attention that you are a worthwhile person. Let me ask you this: in your daydreams of self-sacrifice, do you go out in a blaze of glory? An explosion or fireball? These are symbolic of trying to send a flare up into the sky to get attention when you feel stranded on a desert island of loneliness. (You can feel lonely in a room full of people, you know.) Complementary to this is the daydream of piercing or cutting yourself. This is a subconscious desire to feel something, to verify that you DO exist because you feel ignored. "Hello? Am I here? No one is acknowledging me! Do I even exist? If I cause myself pain, I will confirm that I do."
The solution to all this is to get your family to acknowledge that you are a worthwhile and valued member of the clan, but if they won't do that, then you need to find a family and friends that do. Family, in my opinion, is not necessarily your blood relatives (see Lilo and Stitch). Family are the people who love and support you for being you. In My Little Pony, the characters are not related but they are still family. For now, these fictional characters have become your surrogate family, but you would do well to find some people in real life who fulfill your needs as well as talking ponies and unicorns do.
In the meantime, you say that you don't like reading but you love writing. Writing is extremely therapeutic, too. I encourage you to write your own stories, working out your feelings as you do so.
Make sense? Write again and let me know.
Hello Papabear, I have a question for you.
So when I grow up, I want to be an artist. I really love making art, it helps me express myself in ways I cannot to otherwise. It also helps me make others happy, which is one of the things I very much love doing.
Now I’m sure you’re aware of the major differences between drawing on paper and drawing digitally. I want to try and transition more into digital art on my computer so I can not worry about eraser marks messing me up and being able to color better and what not. Plus, it’ll help with my future job as an artist.
I also love playing video games. I have a few consoles, namely Nintendo ones like the Switch, and I play some games on my computer too. Usually my parents let me play however long I want as long as I have schoolwork done and don’t have any chores. I also cannot be on electronics after 9:30 PM.
Recently my school has gone to full virtual, meaning me and my little sister are going to be stuck at home. I was hesitant about drawing for a while because I felt like I wasn’t good enough and I would just do some sketches in my sketch book once a month. I’ve gotten the confidence now to start drawing again and I want to go back to digital drawing to improve my skills, which I need my computer for. But my parents said that since me and my sister are going to be home all the time, we are only allowed 4 hours on our computers a day and no time extensions.
This puts a limit on how much I can practice my drawing. I want to be able to draw on the computer, but also do my games too in a single day without feeling like I have to do one or the other because of the time limit. And what confuses me the most is my parents still let me use the Switch and my other consoles as much as I want as long as I have schoolwork done and no chores.
So basically I want to have more time on the computer to draw, but I’m afraid they’ll get mad at me and think I want it just for my games. What do you think I should do?
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I think what your parents are trying to limit is you and your sister doing unproductive things online (or what they see as unproductive) such as playing games or chatting on social media. This is different from your working on your skills as an artist. My advice would be to talk to your parents to better define computer time. For example, doing school work on the computer is not something they would try to limit, I would think. Similarly, if you explain to them that art is something you are serious about and might even make a career of, and that learning to use a computer to create digital art is essential for a career in, say, graphic arts, then they should look to this time as being career-oriented.
So, when you talk to them about your art, don't describe it as being for fun and laughs but, rather, as a serious educational pursuit to develop a marketable skill set. Then, while agreeing to the time limit for games and social time on the computer, tell them you need a separate standard for computer time when it involves your education, whether that is for school or for developing your knowledge and ability to create art digitally. Oh, and it would help a lot if at least some of the art you are creating is not furry related. Work on stuff that could have commercial value, such as creating logos, drawing buildings, or portraits of people. These are all things that can help your furry art, so it's not wasted time by any means.
Hope that helps. Good luck!
Dear Papa Bear,
For years, my FurAffinity account has been posting both normal art and art of extremely fat, but clean, versions of cartoon birds with big bellies and behinds . . . and I'm a Christian, so I put a lot of Biblical references in my art. Here's my question: How come only a few FA artists--like myself--endorse Christianity for fatties, but everyone else posts crude, secular art? I do have some great nonreligious friends, but I still wanna' know.
P.S. I do love furries, but I don't dress up like them because I don't have the money to do so.)
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While there are Christian furries, the majority of furries are not Christians; while there are furries who are into fat furs, they are also in the minority. So, think of a Venn diagram with three circles: one contains Christian furries, one contains fat furries, and a third contains furries only into clean art. When you merge these options together, the ones who are Christian furries into clean, fat fur art are pretty small.
The reason there are not many like you in terms of what you enjoy is because you have a very specific taste that does not relate to a large subgroup.
Hope that answers your question.
As a furry artist, I’m currently taking commissions and I submitted a price list in a furry discord server, how long should I wait until I get a commission offer? Should I also post in other social media’s instead to gather the attention of others? Thanks.
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As an artist looking for commission work, you should post your availability on every furry (and nonfurry) site possible, not just Discord. You should be posting on FurBuy, Inkbunny, FurAffinity, SoFurry, Furry4Life, Furrific, FurrTrax, DeviantArt, Weasyl, VCL, Furry Amino, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Etsy, Tumblr, and anything else you can find.
I, personally, feel that all artists should also maintain a website so that they can direct people to a site where you can display and sell your art to the best effect. Make your art omnipresent so that you get noticed. Some of these sites allow you to sell your art while others just allow you to display it; either way, direct them to your website. Make sure you have samples of your art available for people to check out.
How long should you wait for a commission? Until what, you give up? If you give up, you will never sell your art. So, wait for as long as it takes.
I struggle with self-worth as an artist, and find it difficult to see my art as anything other than garbage when compared to the countless amounts of art that I see out there. I'm not that good of an artist, but I like making comics. In fact, I'm currently working on a comic that I love doing, but every day, despite me working hard on it in my free time, I still feel inadequate and will never feel happy about myself. So I guess my question would be how I should approach my views on myself as an artist in the future.
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Artistic types--whether they are painters, musicians, writers, or whatever--are often very self-critical. This is because the work they do is put out into the public sphere, making it vulnerable to criticism from the outside. Since many of us seek validation from others, criticism can hurt, and then we forget why we created the art in the first place.
Why do you create art? Why do you work on a comic book? Because, as you said yourself, you love to do it.
You should draw and color because you love it, not because you want others to approve of you. This is only important at all if you are aiming to sell your artwork. That's when you do commissions and such, drawing or painting things that other people want to see.
As for the quality of your art, practice makes perfect. The more you draw, the better you will become. Work on your technique, perhaps take art classes (in a classroom or virtually), seek out advice from other artists, but most of all practice, practice, practice. Just like practicing a musical instrument, the more you draw and study technique and theory, the better you will be.
To answer your final query, stop comparing yourself to others and stop seeking validation from others. The only person you really need to please is yourself. You are not put on Earth to get the approval of other people. Oh, and remember, some of the greatest, most brilliant artists ever born were criticized and even ostracized by the public. Public taste does not equal good taste, necessarily. In fact, public taste is often bad, dull, and insipid.
Be an artist because you love it. Draw your comic book because it makes you happy.
What are some reasons why furries commission art of their characters? I just commissioned some art of my fursona for the first time--which is something I've always wanted to do--but it was certainly an investment! I'd love to commission more art in the future, but I want to find out if it's something I can justify.
Here are some of my reasons for wanting to commission art:
Thank you so much!! (:
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Congrats! I think this is a question I have not gotten before, so let's have fun answering it, shall we?
The easiest way to start is to explain why I commission art for Grubbs Grizzly. Of course, first of all, I am not a great artist, so it is better to have quality art by someone else. I, too, enjoy supporting furry artists, especially those who are my friends, such as Dan the Bear. Like you, too, I enjoy seeing how others interpret my fursona. The first time I commissioned a drawing, I was at Further Connection North (now Motor City Furcon) in Michigan. This was one of my first cons and I didn't really know anyone, so I was in the Dealers' Den and saw an artist I liked. She was drawing badges for $5, and I had no badges, so I had her draw it so I would have a personal badge for the con.
I've had other badges drawn for me since then. I use them as avatars for various furry social sites, I use them for this website, and I am using them in my book. I also put one on a custom T-shirt. You can do lots of fun things with fursona art. For instance, if you follow this link you can buy Ask Papabear merchandise.
You can get even more creative than this. For example, you can commission a spot in a Your Character Here (YCH) artwork in which an artist has several fursonas in one artwork and furries buy a spot in that art. In another example, there are skilled people in Second Life who create custom avatars you can adopt for role-playing in SL. OR! If you really get ambitions, find someone who sculpts and they can create a figurine you can use for anything from simple display to playing D&D or some other board games. Heck, these days, with 3-D printers, there are companies that will create these figurines after taking pictures of you in fursuit.
Having art of your fursona is simply a way to help you to get into the fun, imaginative world of furry.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.