People are band-wagon jumpers, all of us are suckers for trends. If we weren't, baggy pants, halter tops, bell bottom jeans and the mullet never would have been a fad. And now the new cool trendy thing is to accuse everyone of spreading fake news. If people were honest, it is their own fault fake news even has a hearing in the public square. If the majority of people were not so gullible or challenged the ridiculous statements made by those who tickle their ears, fake news coming from both sides of the philosophical landscape wouldn’t spread.
The truth is, all of us enjoy being lied to. We really do. The Bible states it simply, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
Part of my job as a pastor is to at least try to understand this sickness so I have some idea of how to wean people back to the truth. So far in my observations I have noticed some regular patterns of thought when deceit has its way. On this post, I am going to suggest just two paths the typhlotic mind tends to choose on its way to full-blown deception.
Path One: Buying Into the False Power of Imagination
Human beings have an amazing propensity to imagine things to be true because they “want them to be true.” Even if all observable evidence points to the fact that those desired things are imaginary, people will still spend the much of their life trying to convince themselves and others that that is how things actually are. Humans love arguing and debating about imaginary things for the purpose of trying to make them come true simply because they want them to be true. This is what is at the core of propaganda.
Ironically, right before I began writing this post I was reading on-line and a friend of mine posted a hilarious statement by some weird looking philosopher named Slavoj Zizek on Facebook. It captures my point about this first path to deceit beautifully. He says, “I secretly think reality exists so we can speculate about it.” Believe it or not, that is a tremendous statement.
He is capturing the idea that the human mind has an amazing ability to disbelieve the obvious while convincing themselves the illusionary is true. Last week I was reading an article about a woman who wanted to be a man so she started the process of hormone therapy. Because she didn’t have the money to continue the therapy her body reverted back to a biological female, which included the natural process of menstruation - - it is a physical reality that young adult women have periods. As a result of still wanting to be male, this person stated, “See, men can have periods too!”
No they can’t.
Deceit is convincing this woman she is a man. And as a result she has to take the next logical step of saying men can menstruate. One person caught in this same false reality writes, “Menstruation can be a particularly difficult time for some trans men because it is a reminder that their bodies don’t match their true gender identity.” Only human beings can conceive of and believe in this utter nonsense.
I was talking to a farmer last month and he said it is vitally important to growing a good crop of corn to know which rows are male and which are female. You know we are deceived when we care more about getting the gender right for growing corn than we are for the health and prosperity of the human race.
Path Two: The Naive Assumption that the Macro operates differently than the Micro.
I have found that deceit has us mocking and disbelieving those things on a Macro level that we all take for granted on a Micro level. This usually happens in the two areas of life that really do matter most - - Politics and Religion. This is why they cause the most conflict.
In Politics: the axiom of truth I think every politician needs to remember is that the way you run your home should be the way you run a government. The Micro should give us insight to the Macro. But in our national politics, just the opposite happens.
For instance, in my home if my son, who is an adult, wants money to buy a large item, he can earn that money by getting a job. If I simply give my son money and don't expect him to earn it, he won't, nor will he ever. In fact, if I don't lay down some limits or threaten to kick him out he will keep expecting money for nothing. So if I was a good parent, I should stop continuing that practice of simply giving him things with nothing required. Simple, right?
Let’s say my sister comes over and complains she can't pay her bills because she has maxed out all her credit cards and she needs to open new credit cards to borrow more money to pay off her cards -- something is messed up with this logic. Right?
If a man in a strange middle eastern outfit knocks on my door wanting to live in my home indefinitely and he gets offended if I ask him questions about himself and his character, I would be a foolish home-owner to let him move in without having him answer those questions or proving his character. Right?
Now, apply these same scenarios to our government policies. For some reason when we talk about a nation these home-grown solutions are often considered cruel and unusual. Politicians love to say the issues on a large scale are too nuanced, they are much trickier, we have to be compassionate. When in truth they are simply acting one way at home and acting another way in public office usually because they get to spend other people’s money. No sweat off their backs.
Ask any female politician who is pregnant and wants to be pregnant if she is having an actual baby? Ask any female politician who had an abortion if she feels guilty about it? Studies say 9 out of 10 ladies who have an abortion have years of regret and depression as a result. But when they make policies that are pro-abortion why do they lie and make it seem like it is the best decision for so many other women? One reason, deceit says the Micro (personal truths) don't apply on the Macro level (national policy).
In Religion: in people’s private lives they are incredibly opinionated, particular and judgmental about things they really care about. Like buying a new car, looking for a spouse, getting second opinions on a doctor concerning their failing health. These Micro, small personal matters, really matter to them in the immediate. But when it comes to talking about the Macro: theology, heaven, hell and God the same people who are particular and specific about small things all of a sudden become tolerant and opened minded about these large end of life issues. They insist we must not debate, fret over, and be worried about eternal matters. But the interest rate on a new car loan can be life or death to them. I have seen men argue to blows concerning which NFL quarterback was the greatest of all time, but when they are discussing Jesus vs. Muhammad or Buddha they act so sophisticated when they say, “We need to be more tolerant to other positions.” Why, we are talking about eternal torment or eternal bliss?
Take the issue of drawing a straight line. A very Micro level task. To have a straight line there is only one option, straight. I have never had anyone argue it. But when the Bible says God describes himself as both Infinite and Perfect, there is no other deity that logically compares, and boy do people hate that. Think about it: When something is infinite in capacity that means there is no end, an infinite being is inexhaustible. You will never reach the end of his person and powers, as a result he cannot be compared because you cannot have two infinite beings existing together at the same time -- there can only be one. And he is perfect, that means he is flawless, infinitely flawless. How then can any other being stack up to his perfection? Logically speaking, like a straight line, there can only be one God, and he does not morph and change for different people, he is the same for all (immutable). And he says Jesus is the one way he has revealed himself to mankind for all time (John 14:6, Hebrews 13:8).
To accept one line is easy because it is on a Micro level, but to accept one perfect infinite God in the person of Jesus Christ will not be tolerated because this is on a Macro level. Deceit, is once again at work.
A Final Word on Deceit
Two days ago, another article on Rob Bell came out again. He is the Christian pastor who wrote the book “Love Wins” -- its premise is that all people will get to heaven because God always gets what he wants. The only people who go to hell are the people who want to go to hell, and eventually they will more than likely be brought back to a right mind by God. This book challenges, in a very snarky way, thousands of years of evangelical doctrine. So naturally most Bible honoring evangelicals took Rob to task on his faulty biblical hermeneutics and they harshly challenged and criticized his conclusions, even saying they were heretical. Boy, people don't like it when you call someone a heretic, and you know why? Listen to a quote out of the article:
“The moment that anyone, however prayerful or thoughtful or earnest they may be, comes to a conclusion other than what has been defined as acceptable, they get kicked to the curb. As some Christian leaders cling tighter and tighter to one, narrow narrow faith tradition, they expel anyone who doesn’t check all the right boxes, who doesn’t say all the right words in all the right ways using all the right Bible verse.
He’s simply reached conclusions that he isn’t supposed to reach, and that really sets off some members of his community.”
See, the writer thinks it is O.K. to imagine a different understanding and reality than what God has clearly revealed (Path One). And he also thinks it is harmfull and dangerous to question the person questioning God - - we must allow people to freely question the Macro. But I know this same author would have no problem when people might question a doctor who comes to a completely different conclusion than most every doctor has about how the heart functions or the brain works (Micro). A differing doctor is known as a “quack” and to be avoided at all costs. But when you have a differing theologian living in California hanging out with Oprah somehow that is to be considered cool?
A “quack” is a “quack”, God will always be God, and the truth will always be the truth -- and don’t let deceit tell you otherwise. Stop being so gullible!
Chapter Five: Lacy’s Place
by Tina Semanas
2 weeks of horrific nightmares, Ara couldn’t sleep, nor could she get the images of Dia’s dead body lying in cold blood out of her mind. How could Dia be dead? Her faithful and loving caretaker, her... mom... gone? Ara’s whole world imploded, reduced to charred dust and ash, all because of a phone call. All because she thought she could go toe to toe with her ruthless teacher, Duenna Black.
Since that fateful call, Ara no longer had a place to call home. According to the NWP’s swift retribution for violating community codes, their house, her house, was marked for immediate incineration. The Sisters believed a peaceful community could only be achieved by using the most terrible means available. The sooner a cell of resistance was removed, the sooner peace was achieved.
After Ara came home on the night of her caretaker's death, she was given 15 minutes to accumulate some clothes and gather up her valuable school textbooks. The rest of her things, including toys, keepsakes, furniture, posters, and coloring pens, were left to be burned with the rest of the house. She would never forget the helpless feeling of being forced out of the only place she ever knew, dragged past the broken front door, and being led into a nearby tan rover waiting to bring her back to the Girl’s Development Institute.
Two small suitcases, that is all she was allowed.
As she sat in the back passenger seat, one of the grim faced NWP agents slammed the rover door and motioned for the driver to move out. Ara watched through the side window as Clay Parker opened a massive hose torch full-throttle sending out giant red-and-orange flames of hungry fire upon her childhood sanctuary. The house on Pine Avenue, her house, gave no resistance to its fiery fate.
Ara squeezed her eyes tight not wanting to show any fear or let out the swelling rage that was clawing at her chest trying to escape. She mustn't let it show, she couldn’t, she had to be strong. One small salty tear sneaked past her lid and rolled down her cheek only to be quickly wiped away by her long sleeved blouse.
As the rover drove away, the neighborhood she once loved, faded away into the blurred distance. So did her many memories: the kids she played with, the parties she attended, the brother she laughed at were now all gone. Like her house, her once buoyant childhood went up in smoke. The rover picked up speed turning right onto a busy highway leading out of the Carmel community. Ara looked back, there was a black cloud of soot rising in a cloudless blue sky. It was the end of a beautiful day.
“No way lady, I am not taking any new charge no matter how bright of a student she is. I never wanted to be a caretaker and no silly law of ‘nearest kin’ can force me to do this. You can tell The Sisters yourself to screw it!” Lacy Dias stood up quickly in an angry huff heading straight for the door.
“Get back here!” demanded Duenna Black. “You are walking on dangerous ground. And don't think I am threatened by your act of bravado in the least. Sit back down Ms. Dias, we have much more to discuss.”
The jugular vein in Lacy’s neck was bulging, like a half-pulled cork in a champagne bottle, she was about to blow.
“Now listen Ms. Dias, your sister Dia has been found aiding and abetting her felon of a son. Though young, he was a dangerous agitator, and of no use to the Carmel community. As a result he has been detained and his worthless caretaker, your sister Dia, has been summarily dispatched. Her remains have been disposed of like common refuse down a recycling vent and she leaves behind a daughter named Ara. Your niece.”
“Even though she is insolent and has a strain of rebellion in her Dias blood, she also has enormous potential and use to The Sisters. The local Vitup board is highly impressed by both the scores of her tests and video footage of her classroom debates. They believe, with the right conditioning and behavior modification, she could put our small Midwest training institution on the map. We are willing to do anything to impress The Sisters.”
Duenna Black folded her hands and calmly continued, “Now Ms. Dias...”
“Call me Lacy!” The large angry woman said with arms folded over her massive torso. Duenna Black nodded in recognition. “O.k. Lacy, if you work together with me on this, I am sure we will both win merits before the regional tribunal. I know all about your falling out with the Regina in charge of the National Termagant Corps, something about a sucker punch to a superior? Well if you perform well with your new charge Ara, it is well within my power to sway the tribunal in your favor. Are you willing to work with me?” Duenna Black bit back a triumphant smile knowing she had held this monster of a woman at bay.
Lacy stood back up kicking over the chair she was sitting on trying to control her rage, “Let me get this straight? I have no way out of this? My stupid sister got herself in trouble with her kid, and I have to clean up her mess? I have to raise a 12 year old Vitup know-it-all?” Seething with a guttural growl, Lacy shot back, “I could kill you right now with my hands.”
Leaning forward with both hands on the desk she glared at the conceited woman smiling before her, “Tell me my dear Duenna, what’s in this for you? How do you benefit out of this?”
“Simple,” Duenna Black responded, “if Ara turns out to be as special as the Vitup board believes, I may get a second chance to appear before the Doyenne Conclave.” When Lacy heard the phrase Doyenne Conclave, the savage beast inside of her was silenced. The Doyenne Conclave, the secret chambers leading to The Sisters' arm of power. Lacy sat back down giving Duenna Black a chance to continue, ”The first time I was placed before the Conclave’s inquisition board I was not prepared to answer their questions, I was too green, too nice. But these last ten years I have looked for a chance to get out of this hell hole, and when Ara Dias first was put in my care I knew she was different. I knew she could be my ticket. If she excels and qualifies for the national Vitup debates, it will put me back on The Sisters' radar.”
And then speaking softer but with a more earnest air she continued, “Lacy, I need this! And I need you to help me. I understand from inside sources your medicine tab has expired. I could get you all the T-patches you need, and want.”
Lacy swallowed hard, knowing Duenna Black was much more dangerous than she first realized. Rubbing her temple, she relented and asked, “What exactly do you want me to do with the girl?”
Duenna Black let out a small breath knowing she won this battle, and so she gently replied, “Feed her, make sure she is on time for her training and that’s it. You will be compensated.”
Ara’s bags were packed and waiting for her outside the office of Duenna Black. Ara heard muffled voices and wondered where she was headed and who was in there talking to the Duenna? The dorms at the Girl’s Development Institute were over-populated and she was pretty sure this meeting was her new assignment, a new caretaker. Hopefully this change would be good? As she sat waiting to hear from the Duenna, her heart couldn’t escape the torment of losing Dia.
And what about Drew? She never saw her brother’s body being removed from the house. Maybe he was still alive? There was always hope.
Duenna Black’s door slowly opened and following behind her was a mountain of a woman towering over the Duenna. With Spiked black hair, and wearing black combat attire with a black tank-top, cargo pants and combat boots, the large woman reached out with a massive muscular arm grinning revealing a golden grill of teeth. Shaking Ara's small hand, the strong woman said, “Ara Dias, I’m your aunt, Lacy Dias, Dia’s sister.”
As she looked into the face of this intimidating mass of a human being, Ara couldn’t take her eyes off of the half skeleton tattoo inked on the right side of Lacy’s face. It gave a grotesque look to her perfectly angular profile . Ara hesitated, and then replied with a breathless response, “Ah, hi. You’re Dia’s sister? You know she’s dead don't you?”
Lacy laughed knowing her imposing size caught Ara off-guard. She liked having the upper hand with her new charge, so in blase’ nonchalance she answered, “Yeah, so, everyone dies. Dia was always a fool. I hope you prove yourself better than she. Grab your bags and let's go, you're staying with me.”
Ara had no time to answer. Looking back to Duenna Black to receive some reassurance, she only responded in stiff silence. Duenna Black stood stone cold, and without saying a word, turned back into her office closing the door leaving Ara with this strange woman alone. Lacy told Ara to get in her black rover, complete with flames of red fire stickers on the side.
“So Ara, you’re going to be a Vitup, huh? That is quite an honor. Duenna Black called me because I am your next-of-kin. The school can’t house you anymore so I am the unlucky one to take in your sorry butt.” Lacy reached over Ara and opened the glove compartment pulling out a small pack of white sticks. Taking one out, Lacy turned to Ara and said, “Camel cigarettes. You can only get these at the underground novelty shop. The Sisters outlawed these things 80 years ago, but I run in circles that live to disobey those rotten b's...Oops, sorry, you will be a Vitup someday and words like that could get me 20 years cast away - - I still think they are b's.”
Ara didn’t know what to say and for the next 15 minutes the conversation went static. Lacy pulled her giant rover into a driveway with a sign saying “M. Sanger Luxury Condominiums.” As Lacy pulled in Ara noticed the ancient look of the architecture. “What is this, a castle?” Lacy replied, “No, it was an old hospital converted into apartments. You’re lucky, my roommate of 10 years just moved out so you have a room to yourself. But don't get too comfortable.”
As they walked into the massive brownstone building, Lacy took a final drag off of her dwindling cigarette and flicked it into some nearby grass. Then she gave a quick offhanded comment to Ara, “You know your sister had so much potential. You’re probably just as smart as she was, but the fool ‘fell in love.’ So stupid.”
This poked at Ara’s interest, “What do you mean?”
Staring daggers down at Ara, Lacy replied, “Phen! Your male mentor? She allowed her emotions to be swayed by his primitive lies. I told her only weak souls believe in male companionship. I never needed the shoulder of a dirty MCP. You would do well to stick to your studies and keep advancing. The ancient philosopher Darwin was right, 'the fittest are the ones who survive in this sick world'.”
“Here we are, room 217. If you stay to yourself and keep quiet I think we will make it just fine.”
Ara entered into the spacious living room that had a picture window looking over the vast expanse of Lake Eve -- a deep blue fresh water lake that reached all the way out to the northern horizon. Looking out to Ara’s left the sun was just setting over the water, casting long shadows off the far away bordering cliffs. Lacy grunted a command pointing to the room in the back, “You can put your crap in that back room, but you first have to move out the workout equipment. I'm making roasted chicken for dinner. You best like it because you have no other choice.”
Ara went into the back windowless room. There was a wall length mirror on the south wall, workout pads were lying on the floor with neatly organized dumbbells stacked in the center of the room. Ara could barely lift half of the weights, straining to put them over to the closet of the main living room. Lacy laughed to herself, “Stupid girl.”
After a good hour all the workout equipment was finally moved, and then Ara unpacked her two small bags. Three school uniforms, a few pairs of pajamas, jeans, ten shirts and blouses. As she stacked her clothes on the bare shelves she noticed a picture of Lacy smiling arm in arm with another woman, a woman she immediately recognized.
“Hey,” Lacy yelled from the small kitchen dining room, “if you want to eat warm food, you better get your butt over here now.”
As Ara came to the table, she worked up the courage and finally asked Lacy, “There is a picture of you and another women in the room I was cleaning. Is that Beck Paris the famous celebrity vlogger?" Lacy shot out of her chair and charged to the room taking the picture off the shelf. Walking into the kitchen, Lacy threw the picture hard against the tile floor shattering the glass and frame into a million tiny pieces. Screeching in anger, Lacy yelled directly into Ara's face, "Listen to me Missy: Never, ever, mention that witch's name in this apartment again! Do you hear me? Never again or I will throw you out on your can! Now clean this mess up, and I am going out to eat, you made me lose my appetite."
“Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”
1 Timothy 6:6-8
I find the Christian teaching on contentment troubling.
It seems like the command to be content could easily cause a person to fall into a pattern of laziness, carelessness and apathy.
My dad once told me a story about how lazy his college roommate was: One particular weekend my dad left home for three days leaving his roommate at the apartment by himself. While he was packing, his roommate was lying down in his bed staring up at the ceiling with his arms stretched up and folded, his hands resting behind his head. My dad asked him what he going to do for the next three days. He said, “Oh nothing, I’ll probably just sit here on this bed.”
My dad shook his head and smiled leaving his roommate alone to himself. After three days when my dad arrived back to the apartment, there was his roommate still lying down in the same position, wearing the same t-shirt and jeans, still staring up at the ceiling. When my dad started unpacking, his roommate turned to my dad and said, “Back so soon?” My dad nodded his head and asked him what he did all week. The man’s reply was, “Nothing.”
Now that is contentment...or is it?
Is that what the Bible means by, ”If we have food and clothes that’s enough?” Is that what it means to “live a peaceful and quiet life” in 1 Thessalonians 4:11? Or was my dad's roomate just being a lazy bum? Sitting around doing nothing while the world moved forward without him?
Is it ok to play five days of video games never once leaving the basement?
I think talking about contentment is putting the cart before the horse. The horse we need to look at first is dealing with the subject of godly ambition. Why have you been put on this earth? That must be answered first.
I think the answer is very simple:
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Colossians 3:23
We are here for God’s glory, and the things we chose to do must first filter through this reality. A lazy person lives for his own glory. But God wants each of us to use all of our heart, mind and soul to bring attention to him. Do it with all you have, do it heartily.
Now the problem arises when after you exert effort, you start wanting and expecting the recognition that should only be directed to God. And sin really messes with contentment when you want what someone else has who has been working hard. Ambition is not wrong if it is meant to point attention to God; but when ambition leads to me and my prosperity, my glory, it becomes a dead end street.
A question from a reader came to me after discussing David and Saul two days ago. The person wondered, “If we can’t be content with what we have will we ever be content with what we want?” It depends on what you want? If you want God’s glory, you will always be content with what you have because you will trust God providing what you need in order to bring him the glory due his name.
If he wants you to bring him glory, he will give you the ability to bring it.
But if what you want is personal recognition, power or possessions you will never be content with what you have because as it says in Ecclesiastes…
Accumulating riches and honor for yourself alone is depressing - - you will never have enough, and people will never give you the honor you really want. But true joy is found in doing what you have been created and designed to do for God himself and to bring joy to those who God loves.
Is it possible to be content? Only if you know God and believe he is watching.
And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” And Saul was very angry...And Saul eyed David from that day on.
(1 Sam 18:7 & 9)
You don't have to listen to me if you don't want to, but I know how to do it. I really do. For years now people have been clamoring and striving for this one thing. From the beauty pageant contestant all the way to the praying nun with rose colored rosary beads in her hand; it is the single thing people are hungering for. Even the pencil necked congressman on Capitol Hill is campaigning to bring this thing to his weary constituents.
That’s right, I know how to usher in “world peace.” I stumbled upon it in my study of 1 Samuel 18.
I am not going to try to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. Nor to grow apple trees and honey bees, we have plenty of those in the area where I now live and people are still angry at each other. My answer is far simpler, and the great part is that everyone reading this has access to this thing.
I know the secret... are you ready?
BE CONTENT with what you have and where you are at in life & STOP BEING JEALOUS OF OTHERS!
That is all you have to do. Saul the King was jealous of David’s success and he wouldn’t let it go. As a result he hunted him down the rest of his life. Jealousy drove him mad.
Think about it: You really have it great right now. You could be living on a mound of garbage, or walking with a chain gang around Lake Baikal up in northern Siberia where a Gulag prison camp was waiting for you. You could have two left feet or no feet at all.
You could be like my 56 year old sister Laura who hasn’t once left the house on her own, thrown a ball, gone to a local 4th of July parade, or kissed a boy. You could be Kim Jon Un’s personal assistant. Yuck! Or do you know what the worst thing is that could happen to you? Check this video out!
James 3:14-16 says very plainly…
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
What do you want that someone else has? Just thinking about that thing right now is chemically doing something to your brain that is not good. Jealousy works on you like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde potion. Instead of whistling a happy tune in peaceful contentment, jealousy makes you seeth and pout and wring your hands wanting.
Don’t you feel your face pinching together and your brow furrowing as you dream about having, wanting and then needing what you don't have? Your blood pressure is rising right this second as you try to grab that thing that is out of your reach. It drove King Saul insane.
Think of our political malaise right now? How many policies and debates are born out of jealousy? And the moment someone cries “Inequity”, “Unfair”, “Give me my fair share”, "Priviledge" it is a sure sign jealousy is raising its ugly head poisoning a heart.
Mr. Hyde is always ready to pounce and he is trying to convince you that you’re getting stiffed by the world.
There is a sinkhole in my backyard. A giant tree was uprooted before we bought our house and it left an underground spring that keeps sucking topsoil down and washing it away. After that happens I will fill the hole with stone and dirt thinking I fixed the problem. For a few months or even a year and I forget about the hole because it looks like the fill is holding.
But then a big rainstorm comes and the hole once again is exposed. No matter how much dirt I put over top, that darn hole appears.
A jealous discontent heart is like my sinkhole. It wants something someone else has thinking it will fill the void -- and if it gets that thing it will seem content… until a storm comes. That storm could be the success of another or a personal failure. But whatever the storm is it will wash away the false contentment swiftly and the jealous heart will convince me I need something else to fill it.
Money, title, honor, and accumulating things become the material we use to fill the hole; but over time they prove themselves to be just as useless as spreading a thin layer of topsoil over a sinkhole is.
So what fills a jealous heart?
One thing: Love for God and his glory alone. When I truly love God I begin to love others as he loves them. And when I love others that way I rejoice when they rejoice. I get excited when another receives promotions, accolades and honor. I don't throw spears at those who have what I want like Saul did to David,
Love for God also trusts him that he knows what he is doing. I allow God to honor and gift people differently. I allow God to give my neighbor a cabin on the lake without demanding he must do the same for me.
Long lasting contentment is the surest sign the hole has been permanently filled. It also is sign of trust in God and it is the only way to world peace -- or at least peace in my world.
Why is the world reeling? It’s full of sinkholes.
Chapter Four: In the Back of the Black Rover
by Tina Semanas
“I can’t move my arm? I can’t move my arm?” Drew’s fevered mind started racing as he woke up trying to remember. Able to open only one eye, he struggled in his effort to survey and assess. He felt a stab of acute pain assaulting every muscle and joint. His head was throbbing, and his eyesight was blurred.
Curled up in a cold metal corner, Drew quickly surmised he was in the back of a large rover, his body lying limp and unwilling. Many bones broken. The vehicle was moving fast, each bump in the road felt like a hammer smashing his already shattered ribs. Sharp pains shot up his back jump-starting his lethargic mind to life, “What happened?”
All Drew remembered was Dia’s voice insisting he stay hidden downstairs. She was at the top of the stairs signaling down to him trying to warn him of danger, someone or something was fast approaching. He couldn’t understand. She wasn’t making sense.
And then the image of her body crumpling under the impact of a direct blow from a stun stick was tattooed onto his mind. Her lifeless eyes remained open queerly staring up to the ceiling as a small pool of blood formed under her head. A few drops of the bright red fluid dripped from the lip of the top step onto the next. The shock of seeing Dia’s soft curls matted with her own blood froze him in place.
3 armed men rushed down and attacked him before he had time to respond. Males were taught never to react, so his reflexes were pathetically slow. Violence for the male was a crime. Like Dia, he too was dropped with one swift blow to his head. All faded to black.
He must have been unconscious for quite awhile. There was a window in the back of the rover, but he couldn’t move his body up far enough to see out. It was night, a sliver of pale yellow light filtered through the back window of the vehicle. Maybe he was lying like this for a day, maybe two days?
He closed his one good eye, gritting his teeth through another rough patch of bumps. The pain was too much, his body and mind shut down. Drew passed out again.
Lunchtime on the plant floor never varied. The muted buzz in Phen’s bloc told him the line would be shutting down for 15 minutes. The digital clock registered 12:25 on each corner of the wall and an army of young male attendants dressed in bland gray uniforms came down each aisle pushing metal carts containing trays of calorie-cubes and 8 ounce plastic squares of water. Each attendant was no older than 18 years of age and most ranged from 12 to 16.
Phen turned to the attendant who served the lunch down his row, a small scrawny boy of 15, and the first thing he noticed were his eyes. His pupils were constricted into a pin-point orb, while each large surrounding iris was coated by a cloudy film of ashen gray. Phen’s heart felt pity for this boy.
Pity? Such an alien sensation.
He looked around the plant at all the other attendants pushing carts and the zombie like workers receiving the cubes without a thank you, no nod or acknowledgment. They each grabbed one cube, one square, and then the silent attendant moved on to the next drone.
“Why didn’t he notice this before?” How could human beings be herded like cows in blocs and not even care? Where did these young men with clouded eyes come from?
For the past two days Phen’s mind sparked to life. Ever since he choked down the two white pills he felt different. The man who gave him the pills was very different too, there was fire in his eyes. But the Termagants took him away, never to be heard from again.
Phen used his 15 minutes of rest to think. While the other men mindlessly watched the comedy screen in their bloc flash in front of them, Phen found a piece of a graphite shard on the floor and cautiously picked it up. He then pulled out a sheet of waste paper he hid in his pocket and began to use the graphite to scribble. His mind was not used to the strange practice of writing. But the muscle memory in his hands remembered. He formed letters to print a single name, “Stephen.”
The muted buzz sounded again calling him back to work and immediately fresh new parts to inspect came methodically down the line. He wondered in a hushed tone to himself, “Stephen?” Lost in thought, Phen knew.
Stephen was his name.
But it has not been uttered for years. It was a boyhood name, his female caretaker would use this moniker when she was angry at him, it was the name Dia secretly made a vow to in a hidden chapel in the woods. But the man who once identified as Stephen has long been dead. Phen the servant of The Sisters was who he was forced to become. A strange idea came to his mind, “What if resurrection was possible?”
At the end of the day Phen fell in lock-step to the nightly drone routine: Through the hallway, another cube, some water, and back to the drip station. Watching the neon green liquid drip, Phen was waiting for the heavy dose of drugs to once again numb his mind and stop his thoughts, but he felt nothing. He watched as the other drones around him fell quickly into a heavy stupor...Phen felt nothing. If anything, he squirmed in the red leather cot afraid the monitor would flash, that his inability to absorb the treatment would be found out.
His mind was no longer deadened, but it was alive and active. A thought hit him, “The Letter ‘B’? What did that stamp on the capsules mean?”
Once back in his bunk, the Tergamant officers stormed into the room, stun sticks at the ready. This time they were not looking for anyone, but instead the husky guard named Major said in a loud stern voice, “O.k. you stiffs, out of your bunks and form a straight line in the center of the room.” Each drone stood next to their bed waiting for their turn to join the single file row that was quickly forming.
A large double-door was opened into the viewing room. The men were used to watching worker training movies here when new parts were to be introduced for inspection. But training happened in the day, during normal work hours. It was nearly 9:00 at night, and everyone knew no drone was to be awake past 9:15.
The line of men shuffled slowly into the room where they were told to sit down; row upon row of concrete bleacher seating. A large screen in the front of the sterile white room was counting down from 5 minutes. After all the men were seated the guards exited the room, locking the large double-door behind them.
When the clock struck zero a quick cloud of white gas was forced into the room. It contained a mild stimulant used to help take the edge off of the numbing Xenon drip the drones just received. The men were more attentive than usual. Each eye fixed upon the moving screen.
As the picture focused on screen, Regina Rodgers, the chief operations manager and Gauleiter of the plant, was seated behind a large mahogany desk wearing a navy blue pant-suit, with hands folded in calm confidence. The camera panned directly to her large swollen face as she began reading a scripted message with a forced acidic smile,
“Workers of unit 54, it has come to my attention we had a major disturbance in your dormitory a few days ago. Liam O’Malley, a man who has been on The Sister’s watchlist for repeated violations of our domestic and criminal codes, was apprehended in your bunkhouse for trying to transfer an unknown chemical substance through underground channels within the plant.
Liam and two of the his contacts were all taken into custody in record time by our excellent Termagant squad, and immediately handed over to our facility's legal tribunal. 2 of our plant’s most accomplished Vitups have scheduled a formal trial that we will be streaming to you live within mere moments. Our objective is to show you how fair our justice system is, but also how swift and exact our punishment can be as well. Let Liam’s case serve as both an example of our benevolence and firmness of our nurturing hand.”
The camera switched inside a small courtroom paneled in gaudy green marble. A judge was seated upon a large platform wearing a black robe and white powdered wig. Two metal tables were set up facing each other in the center of the room. A pudgy short bailiff wearing a Turgamant uniform of tan carried an ivory staff, banging it on the white tiled floor three times. She called for recognition of the sitting judge, “Her excellency the Judge Gloria Gentry presiding, enter her presence with the fear that is due her!”
A door to the left opened and two stern faced women, dressed also in black robes, came slowly out. First they acknowledged the camera with a brief nod, and then they proceeded to the foot of the judge kneeling in submission. Heads bowed.
A door to the right opened and three men were led out wearing white linen jump suits. Around their necks were chains each attached to the next man, arms cuffed behind their backs. They were led in front of the judge by two Termagant attendants insisting that they were not allowed to look directly into the judge's face. Another Termagant officer with a large stun stick swung the rod against the backside of each man's knee joint, dropping them immediately as they let out a stifled cry.
The first man looked familiar to Phen. He had a shock of neatly trimmed red hair, the other men were rather indescript. Judge Gentry stood and started to berate the men with a stream of vitriolic curse words, "Liam O'Malley, Ona Thom, and Ory Stone, you all are garbage, nothing but garbage. Who do you think you are rebelling against the benevolant wisdom of the The Sisters? Your crime has come before me and it is apalling. You are accused of manufacturing a chemical blocker to counter the effects of our cleaning agents. You clearly meant to wreck the order of our society and this crime has the potential to foment rebellion in the mind of the docile drones. What say you in response to this?"
As the Judge waited for a response, Phen wondered about the term 'blocker'? "That may be it? The answer?" Liam stood up and stared straight at the Judge. One officer hit him behind the knee again, screaming, "You must kneel and never look straight at her Excellency again. You will be punished for that insolence!"
Liam didn't budge. His massive frame was like knocking over a pillar of stone. His eyes stayed upon the Judge, and spitting anger Liam blasted, "My name is William O'Malley. You are damn straight I was transferring blocking agents. You are turning men into mush, I cannot stomach it for another moment!" He rushed at the Judge in a fit of rage dragging the thin bodies of the two men by the neck.
The camera feed blinked out. There was nothing but silence and static on the screen. Phen's eyes widened and mouth gaped open, "What just happened?" The other men remained stock still not reacting to anything they just saw. Phen looked around the room, they were all zombies, over-dosed on Xenon. Minds a blank slate.
But not Phen, he saw everything, and too much.
Quickly the screen blinked back on. A camera panned on three disembowled men, lying in the putrid fluid and bile of their open stomachs. The camera flipped back to Regina Rodgers, once again zoomed on her fat, and now flushed face. She was trying to gain composure. She made her speech to carry a controlled tempo. This was her final statement, "Workers of unit 54, justice has been served." The camera's didn't immediately switch off, and in the background Phen noticed fear and outrage building in her eyes.
The camera finally shut off and the screen went black. Instantly a neon green cloud of gas seeped through the ventalation system which made the men drowsy to the point of barely being able to stand. 5 minutes later a platoon of Tergamant gaurds streamed in assisting the men to thier bunks, a few thinner framed men needed to be dragged.
Phen walked vigorously back to his bunk on the strength of his own two strong legs.
Ara could hardly contain herself, wearing a white ribbon pinned to her lapel! She wanted to skip all the way home. She was unanimously selected by the review board for the Vitup class. Her pathway to success was being paved, she knew she was made of the right stuff.
A half a block from her house, she noticed three black rovers parked in the street. A string of orange caution tape was draped along Dia's row of neatly trimmed hedges. What did this mean? A sick feeling in her stomach was growing, "I wonder if this has anything to do with Drew? It was only a ball?"
Ten NWP agents coldly assessed Ara as she ducked under the orange tape. The front door was broken off the hinges, and then she saw her, Dia's twisted body and caved in skull lying in her own dried blood. Ara musn't scream, she also knew she could not ask any questions.
Ara knew it was her fault. It was the price of becoming a Vitup.
Scientifically speaking, when it comes to understanding humanity, humans are clueless. We are incredibly astute and thorough when it comes to knowing about and stewarding the other species of plant and animal life; but when it comes to properly caring for our own, we are astoundingly ignorant and negligent.
For instance, if I asked any regular thinking person what two things are needed for a tiny oak or pine sapling to grow out of the ground with health and vigor, what would they need?
Easy…water and sunlight.
Water carries nutrients, sugars, strengthens leaves and stems. Sunlight provides photons, electromagnetic radiation, which is the energy needed to produce food for the plant during photosynthesis. Without either water or sunlight, a plant would not survive.
Fairly simple. After explaining this to someone you will never hear them say:
Sounds rather silly, especially if you are a botanist. Every good gardner sings the praises of both water and sunlight and how they joyously work together. Even the Beatles sang about “Good Day Sunshine!” Never would you pit water against sunlight -they are both needed because they are both designed to meet different needs of the plant.
Human babies, like saplings, need two things as well to grow up with health and vigor. Easy...a mother and a father. It is not as easy as you may think because humans are intellectually challenged when it comes to caring for their own.
Biologically, mentally, emotionally a baby is designed to need the input and love of both a mother and a father. A mother, like water, carries the nurturing nutrients of compassion, kindness and consistency a child needs to be healthy and strong. A father, like sunshine, gives energy, vision and courage to take risks in a child’s heart. Both are vitally important, both make for a fully mature and flourishing human being.
But this is where humanity goes blind. We think it is:
Sounds rather crazy, doesn’t it? But this is where we are as a society of humans. Men and fathers have been downgraded to such a degree your average person no longer sees just how important they are to the full flourishing of a child.
The reason why homosexuality is so wrong is not that it is "gross to see a man kissing a man, or a woman kissing a woman". Most average Americans by and large are not offended or scared of the gay man or woman - - we see it everyday on television, social media and proudly proclaimed in silly, juvenile and sex obsessed parades with people strutting around in their underwear. The cry of "Homophobia" is nothing more than a distancing tool used by the practicing homosexual to play the pity card - - they want us to think they are a victim of a cruel world that doesn't understand their pain. We are suppossed to believe they are a special kind of human. That is a false narrative that has been peddled for the last 30 years with incredible success.
Here is the real narrative: A man, even if he dresses in drag, will never, ever be able to replace a woman. Biologically, mentally and emotionally. Sunshine can never replace water. In the same way, a woman, even if she gets a butch haircut and wears skinny jeans and a cool flannel shirt, can never replace a man. Biologically, mentally and emotionally. Water can never replace sunshine.
Sure there is dysfunction. We live in a fallen world, sin has warped things, and both mothers and fathers can be abusive and deadbeat. But why do we have to celebrate a weak and impotent model to raise a child? Why is the promotion of marriage between a man and woman considered narrow-minded and offensive? It is a biologically (you need both a man and a women to have a baby), mentally and emotionally superior model for human growth and flourishing than any other coupling choice.
If you disagree with this you are providing direct proof that you are astoundingly ignorant and negligent.
A few years back when Chaz Bono, Cher’s daughter who identifies as a male, came on Ellen to say she/he was going to be a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars", Cher came to her/his defense against all the naysayers. She was the mama-bear. At the time Chaz Bono was 42 years old. Her/his mom called up to defend her child's decision, gushing tributes to her/his wonderful character while Chaz teared up listening to his mom’s defense. Watching it made it more than obvious that a 42 year old biological male would not need nor want their mom to defend them in such a public and pathetic way. Chaz, on the other hand, relished in her/his mom's vitriolic defense of her/him. Even though she is wanting to be a man with all her heart, and she wants us to consider her a man; biologically, mentally, and emotionally Chaz is still down-deep a female.
Humans so easily fool themselves believing that we can re-engineer God’s design. I think the feminist's, homosexual's and transgender's anger comes more from trying to convince themselves that their faulty design is actually working and right when they know it isn't. They really aren't fighting haters, because there is less out there than they believe there to be. In truth, most sincere Christians have pity for the people who are confused in their gender. I have yet to honestly meet a godfearing believer who is afraid of them. It is the ignorant and shallow Christian that lashes out and mocks those who are struggling with their biology.
My purpose in a post like this is not to spread hate, but to magnify the beauty and rightness of God’s design. Fathers are crucial, and the absence of them in the home and even no longer wanting to hear their opinions in the public square is killing us as a nation. The more we buy into the tirades of angry feminists and transgenders, the more damage we incur as human beings. No wonder our society has soul decay.
I for one love Father's Day not because I am a father and I want flowers or steak from my kids; but it is because I had a great father and he was one of the greatest gifts God ever gave me. I simply want everyone to have one!
The more we mock, ignore, and consider men and fathers as irrelevant; the less good fathers there will be at all. The Bible says there is coming a day when good men are taken away from a nation (see Isaiah 57:1) as a punishment from God. If you don't want good men, God won't give you any. And not having good God-fearing men to protect, provide, lead, and laugh with will be the end of civility as we know it. I think that day is fast approaching.
May God have mercy on us all.
Chapter Three: Two Weeks in Telluride
by Tina Semanas
Tiny wisps of snow were tumbling down out of the stainless steel-blue sky. Like miniature acrobats, white flakes playfully circled, danced and dropped in the December air carried in by the thin clouds of an early winter squall. Beck was up surprisingly early, it was 4 or 5 in the morning, she wasn’t quite sure. But she didn’t care...it was nice to be awake alone, lost in your thoughts while the world slept.
For the last two weeks it took everything Beck had to play the part of the eager new bride. Athan was easy to deceive, and she knew how to perform to his likes and stir up male lust in order to make him believe. At first, Beck was sure the act would be a hard one to carry out; but with the backdrop of Telluride’s Colorado mountain valley - a wonderland of white crested peaks, forests of green pine, and sloping snow-covered glades - she found herself almost believing the ruse of newlyweds enjoying their honeymoon getaway together.
How did Athan know? Did someone tell him about her passion for the fresh mountain air? When Beck was no older than 5 or 6, her male mentor yearly took her and her sister Bert to the ski slopes of Vail, Aspen and as far north as Jackson Hole, Wyoming. And here in Colorado, lost in the magical city of Telluride, Beck felt transported back in time. She became the gullible little girl again - when all the world seemed right.
It took all she had not to be swept away in this land of enchantment; she mustn’t let Athan get any part of her heart.
Beck always dreamed of living in a place like this, a rustic refuge far away from the demands of a busy, exhausting world. A river stone hearth with crackling fireplace was splashing the bedroom with a soft orange glow, reclining in a solid oak lounger, and a room with a view. Oh what a view!
Cupping a warm mug of coffee close to her cheek, Beck let the aroma of the soothing dark drink mingle with the memories of a world she could never hope to get back. How did he know? Athan surprised her...but she must not let on, she knew it was not healthy to allow nostalgia to linger. Those she looked to, her confidants of power, warned her, “Rationality is abandoned when love for another lodges in your heart.”
Beck was determined never to allow this to happen. She was too important, too ambitious and far too sensible to be swept away by such primitive passion. These two weeks in Telluride were coming to a close, and it was just as well, she needed to keep her heart locked and bolted shut as well.
Beck took a long sip of the steaming liquid as she glanced over at the sleeping man, her husband for one more day. Athan was breathing deep and heavy on the large downy bed centered under the vaulted ceiling of pine. As a dark cloud of guilt passed for one small moment, she grinned knowing he had no idea who she really was. She played her part to perfection, the fawning bride on the outside; but inside, she was a deceptive Dowager of the finest degree.
The first question she was asked to consider as she traveled down the pink ribboned road years ago: “What is a man?” It was answered for her in a hundred different ways. She was told by her Duenna that men were not hard to figure out. Every single man was a sexually hungry beast, dangerous when hunting, stupid when satisfied. The cis-male gender was an emotionally stunted animal which made them all relationally weak. Every woman inherently knew this was the chink in their armor, always at the mercy of the craftiness and emotional cunning of the superior gender.
Those males who had an extra dose of compassion or expression usually joined the ranks of the genderfluid, non-binary, not stuck in a false narrative of “either-or.” But those who insisted on grasping foolishly to their biology at birth were mentally, genetically, and socially found to be inferior. They were born smaller, so the wisdom of The Sisters determined for them to be treated as such.
A virus must be contained.
Dowagers like Beck learned early on the fine art of keeping the male under control. Beauty and playful sexuality were the most obvious tools for male manipulation. But the dagger that pierced right to the heart of the beast was a woman’s tears. Every girl learned from toddler years that a single warm drop of water rolling off the cheek was her greatest weapon against a man.
Silent but deadly...tears.
That is why they must be conserved for important moments. When the man used threats and possible physical force to get his way, a sudden burst of tears could stop him cold. When a smaller woman felt sexually threatened (a crime punishable by death), or her superior station was disrespected, tears turned the tables. But a single salt-water droplet was put to the greatest effect when a man had something a woman wanted.
And Athan had money.
Brothers, playmates and young male classmates never knew just how powerful the weapon of a tear was. But the superior gender did. Beck was keeping hers hidden, ready to unsheathe after the bridal act was over.
But not yet, not today.
“Why are you up so early, darling?” Athan quietly questioned as he stretched his arms above his head. The stupor of sleep was still holding heavy on his tone body.
Startled, Beck replied, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you. Sleep a few more hours, it is still really early.”
“Oh, no,” Athan replied, “I have a surprise for our last day and I intended to be up before you to get everything ready. But you beat me, shoot!”
“Another surprise? Wasn’t this chalet in the foothills enough? Athan you do too much…”
“Nonsense!” He replied, “I wanted to share this with you. I couldn’t be happier - I hope to make this an annual reminder of our wedding date.” Beck bit her bottom lip not wanting to get sucked into a dream she knew that would never be realized. Athan pulled off the fluffy white comforter he was buried beneath and slipped on a robe heading to the desk.
Pulling out a silver tablet, with a touch of his index finger Athan turned on a small flat screen. He stared into a soft blue light wearing a boyish grin.
“What is it?” Beck asked curiously.
“Our reservations are a go! In two hours we have our own helicopter drop into a self-contained canyon full of the best double-blue trails and mogul runs you have ever seen. I thought you would love the challenge? Are you ready? I saved the best day for last!”
Beck’s heart jumped, she only was dropped out of the sky to ski fine powder snow once in her life. The experience instantly hooked her to the adrenaline of mountain skiing. She had to ask, “Athan, how did you know? Did Bert tell you?” Beck’s eyes were lit up, she looked 12 years old again, unable to contain her excitement.
Smiling, Athan jested, “I have no idea what you are talking about?”
“I’m going to kill her for telling you some of my secrets...and give her a big hug as well. I can't believe it!” Beck ran over to Athan and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. “First dibs on the shower, and I’m going to show you some real skiing today!”
Little did Beck know, a small sliver of her heart was melting. Athan was not as easy to dismiss as she first thought.
As the girls filed out of the classroom to prepare for their evaluations, Ara sat back down in her seat remaining silent waiting to be readdressed by Duenna Black.
When a Deunna wanted to speak with you alone it was wise not to show fear or any shade of impertinence. Best keep your hands folded and mouth shut. The Duennas all loved the power they held over their students, each classroom was their own little kingdom. For a few short years they wielded unchallenged authority balancing each girl’s future in their hands.
And Duenna Black was especially thirsty for recognition -- when she smelled fear she pounced, and Ara knew it. So there she sat in stoic silence not giving any ground to her teacher’s fragile ego.
After the last girl exited the room, Duenna Black closed the door and locked it. Slowly turning toward Ara she said, “So, do you think you are ready for placement my dear?”
“Of course I am, you have prepared us well.” Ara knew a hint of flattery went a long way with Duenna Black.
“I see,” the large woman said under scrutinizing eyes. “I understand you are hoping for a ribbon of white? Very few girls are chosen for such an elite honor. What makes you think you deserve it?”
Ara took a deep breath to try to calm herself, gaining confidence she boldly professed, “Because I am the smartest and hardest working student in the class and you even told me yourself I had a knack for debate. As The Sisters say, ‘Female fierceness is to be celebrated - - we must stand strong and never allow ourselves to be tread on again.’ So I am standing strong and claiming what I believe is rightfully mine: An invitation to walk the Vitup path.”
And standing up, Ara made one final plea, “And did you not just say ‘no wallflowers allowed?’”
Duenna Black’s lips grew thin and tight. She was caught off-guard by the strength of the girl standing before her and she knew it was time to lower the unsuspecting boom, “Hmmm, alright if you can do one thing right now for me, I will personally see to it that you get selected for the Vitup roll-call. It’s just one small thing.”
Ara quickly responded, falling into her teacher’s trap, “I can and will do whatever you ask!”
Duenna Black stood for a long second with arms folded looking straight into Ara’s piercing blue eyes. “O.k. then.” She went back to her desk and pulled out something that was sitting on her chair. It was a gray box with an L. E. D. touch-pad on top. Duenna Black picked it up with both of her hands, walked over to Ara and slammed it down hard on the nearby desk top causing the confused girl to jump.
“Tell me, my prize student, what is in this box?” Duenna Black’s eyes were insistent as they remained motionless waiting for an answer.
Ara stuttered a response, “Uh, I don’t know.”
“Sure you do!” the teacher blasted, “Don’t lie to me Ara! The NWP agent who found this box hiding in the woods of a park near your house did a quick DNA sweep on the latch. Do you know whose name registered matching all three print samples? A 16 year old piece of scum by the name of Drew Dias. Is that not the name of your older brother?”
Ara was stunned.
Duenna Black continued, “What happened to your confidence? You are a...how did you say it...a fierce female? That’s laughable. If I am not mistaken it sure seems like you have grown a bit timid, weak, pathetic. Here, my dear Ara, is what I want. Turn your sorry excuse for a brother into your neighborhood watch team. Dial them up on my personal alert line on my desk. Tell them that you have evidence that Drew Dias is a law-breaker and needs to have all personal rights and privileges immediately revoked.” Duenna Black turned and paced the front of the room relishing this moment when a subordinate was at her mercy.
She continued, “A true candidate that wants to enter the ranks of Vitup will not tolerate community codes from ever being violated. Tell me, what is in the box?” Duenna Black’s breath was hot on Ara’s face demanding a response.
“I am not sure what you call it? It is some kind of oblong ball. I know my brother was throwing it around with the neighborhood kids. They didn’t seem to be doing anything wrong.” Ara’s voice lost all its earlier confidence.
“What did you say? Not doing anything wrong? Tell me, when did you become the expert in domestic law? Who gave you the right to decide when you can choose to ignore the mandates of The Sisters? When did your sympathy for a foolish male over-ride your good sense?” Duenna Black was livid. “If you do not turn your brother in, I will send you along with your ex-classmate Maggie to enter the ranks of ‘the unspoken’.”
Ara never dreamed in a million years that her chance for a life of success, promotion and glory could be snuffed out by the heartless whim of a bitter old Duenna. Her brother’s life in exchange for her future? It was like she was being swallowed up in black hole, no chance for escape. After what felt like an eternity, Ara relented and obeyed. “Duenna Black, what is the number for my community NWP agent?”
In cold indifference wearing a wry smile Duenna Black responded, “3244, ask for an agent named Clay.”
Ara punched in the number and a skinny mole-faced man on the other end answered, “This is Clay Parker, NWP agent for the local Carmel region. How may I assist you?”
Dia noticed a rover with three agents pulled into the driveway each in full riot gear carrying stun sticks. She looked at the clock, it was still early. This couldn’t be good.
“He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine...Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground."
1 Samuel 17:40-49
A slingshot killed a man...really? Impossible!
How could a boy kill a man with a slingshot? I often wondered about this after hearing the story of David and Goliath in fourth grade religion class from a very kind, but rather cloistered nun. I wondered to myself at the time if the Bible really got it right? You see, I knew from experience, when I got hit by a slingshot in the arm from my crazy neighbor, it felt more like a bee sting than a bullet.
One day my mom bought me my very own slingshot from Avallone’s Pharmacy. It had a plastic “Y” shaped base, with two thick rubber bands attached to a red piece of cloth forming a pocket in the middle. Because of what I was taught by Sister Nancy, I laughingly called my new sling, “The Giant Killer!”
I had to test it.
I went into our backyard where we had an abundance of rocks and varmints to aim at. First I picked up a good sized round stone, placed it firmly in the small pocket of cloth, pulled back on the bands, and let ‘er rip: “Bloop!” It lofted a soft curving arc that landed barely 20 feet away from where I stood. Not too impressive. So I practiced a few more times before I went after some live targets. Sometimes a real zinger of a shot would fly out, but most of the time the small round missile I sent aloft couldn't even hurt a flea.
I then tried to hit some chattering squirrels up in the tree (Don’t tell my mom, I promised her I wouldn’t aim at animals or people). Most of my shots released so slow the squirrels could race up and down a branch five times before the rock even reached them. I’m pretty sure a small black squirrel stuck its tongue out, mocking me.
Maybe if I pulled back as far as I could it would give me more power? “Snap!” One of the rubber bands broke - - so much for killing giants.
Candidly, for a small minded boy of 10, this experience began to erode some of my initial trust in scripture. Was it a real story, or pure fairy tale? I believed a man named David once lived, but I was not too sure about the 9 foot giant named Goliath? My faith in scriptural integrity was wobbling. Everyday life experience told me clearly that a slingshot had almost zero capacity to kill. Scripture said David’s slingshot was deadly. Who was right?
Without realizing it, I started to place my worldview over and above what scripture taught.
I really thought I was smarter. If a slingshot could not kill; that means the Bible must be something less than it claimed to be. In my puny mind, I figured if I didn’t see it, or I couldn’t conceive it, it must not be true.
There are many people out there who view God and his word much like my ten year old self. Some of scripture can seem rather outlandish to the modern mind and even scientifically naive, so people begin to doubt the veracity of God and his word. We the people are collectively smarter than God’s revelation:
Don’t you see the problem? When we arrogantly determine that meaning is understood only by using our personal experiences, sensory perception, cultural preferences and scientific theories as the basis of truth, overtime we will naturally lose trust in scripture.
Faith asks me to believe God even though I can’t see him or understand his ways. I must trust even when I can't see his reality with my own eyes. In fact, the Bible says we see most things through the broken lens of a twisted heart (Jeremiah 17:9 & Romans 1:18-22).
Faith’s whole thrust is for me to take God at his word, and when I do it is then and only then when I will truly see.
After meditating on scripture, I knew deep in my soul I was a sinner, and I needed saving. I decided even if I don't fully understand everything in the Bible, even how a man can be killed by a slingshot, I will still trust God. Trusting God through scripture was my only hope. So I believed. I don’t know how to scientifically prove it, nor can I verify my experiences are true empirically, but God started changing me completely.
A couple years after I handed my life over to Jesus, my brother brought me into the backyard to show me something. He said, “Chris, I was reading up on David’s slingshot and I found out something very interesting. I learned how to make it and I’ve been practicing with it for the past couple days. In fact, I am quite good at it. But I must warn you, it is lethal.”
He pulled out two long strings from his pocket with a leather pouch tied to both ends. He picked up a large stone and started swinging it fiercely around his head. “Chris, stand back and look at that tree.” After about ten rotations around his head he let the rock fly, “Wham!” It slammed into the trunk of a large oak tree putting a giant pockmark an inch deep in the bark.
(For an example of David’s sling, follow this link:
He taught me how to use it properly and you could feel the power building with each rotation of the rock. It was nothing like my silly Avallone Pharmacy slingshot.
I let go of the string and the rock whizzed through the sky scaring away every squirrel in the vicinity. No more mocking from those pesky tree climbers!
I learned something that day - - I didn’t know what I thought I knew. And neither do you. One of the most stunning portions of scripture is when God confronts a man named Job asking him to consider a few questions. Job 38:1-2 opens like this…
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?”
Tell me Mr. Evolutionist, where were you?
At the end of the book Job is brought to his knees in abject humility. He is rendered speechless before the wisdom and majesty of God. Faith believes this God actually exists. And if he exists, don't you think you need to be a little more careful about how much you doubt his wisdom, and proclaim to others what you think you actually know?
God’s word is true, David was real, so was his slingshot, and so was Goliath’s severed head lying in a pool of his own blood.
CHAPTER TWO: Rivet Factory
Spinning wheels of translucent vanadium gears moved the conveyor system rapidly along. Robotic arms welding side doors and pivot joints for the new class of titanium glider chassis furiously working, spraying showers of orange sparks, pumping out product at record pace.
Smaller pieces from transmission switches, pistons, holographic laser diodes for windshields were meticulously placed on inspection trays by row upon row of silent men shrouded with vacant faces. This massive army of “the clean” were outfitted in an array of brightly colored work suits: teal, peach, magenta and sunburst yellow, slogging along all day in the same monotonous grind, eyes blank.
Signs around the plant read, “No Conversation Allowed on threat of Exile”; but no matter, after one is washed no conversation is really possible. The Sisters deemed all male dialogue as dangerous. Cis-men needed constant monitoring because historically they were known to scheme and form leverage unions to wrest control from established power structures. Cameras and sound monitors were everywhere.
First year Vitups were instructed to memorize the central foundational axiom of domestic criminal law: “Violent deeds are born from violent words.” For the male gender, speech was no longer a right, nor was it free.
Phen on this day, as on any given day, was stationed at his bloc, inspecting parts. For such a large man, standing 12 hours a day proved to be excruciating. Reduced to a sullen mountain of muscle and bone, he listlessly examined instrument panel switches looking for any flaws, wearing the required ear mufflers and magnifying lenses -- confined to a world lost in his own gray thoughts.
If a worker wanted to avoid the deadly blasting mines they had to be “clean”, and to be clean you were required to be hooked up to a nightly routine of “Xenon drips.” The Sisters demanded for these drips to be strictly enforced in all high-tech engineering and production zones because they increased productivity while reducing unnecessary testosterone driven thought patterns.
Phen chose the lesser of two evils: He knew the attrition rates in the mines were harrowing. So instead of sure death, he allowed himself to be placed under the control of The Sister’s nanny-state. For an adult male over 18, that meant living in a perpetual dream world of neutered colors and muted thought life.
That all changed when Liam was brought in as Phen’s new bunkmate.
Bright eyed and fire haired, Liam was tattooed with the dreaded “V” -- high priority on The Sister’s watchlist. His violence quotient registered so high a small robotic barnacle was daily assigned to him in order to record all movements when he was working on the plant floor. The factory’s Regina considered him to be a walking time-bomb.
After leaving the work area, every man was required to proceed naked through a steam hallway for the removal of any dirt, grime or possible contraband that may have been passed between men on the floor. Blue-steam, of course, with it’s highly toxic vapors, was known to damage the barnacle’s circuitry so they were removed from their respective host prior to entrance into the bunkhouse.
Once through the hallway, each worker was given a 3600 calorie-cube, a pint of water, and then they were hooked up to a drip station for an hour. Reclining on a red leather recharge-cot, neon green Xenon fluid entered the subject’s veins sending a fast-acting numbing agent straight to the synapses of the frontal lobe. After the last drop was administered, the freshly medicated workers, known to the Regina as “drones”, shuffled back to their bunks where they fell quickly off to a dreamless sleep.
One particular night, after one month of falling in step to a drones daily routine, Liam followed Phen to their bunks. Like always, Liam jumped up to the top while Phen collapsed under the scratchy army green cover on the bottom bunk. The one minute bell soon sounded for lights out, and 60 seconds later the room went black.
“Squeak, squeak”, the bed springs above Phen were bending under Liam’s large frame. “Psst, Phen look up.” Liam’s soft voice wafted down to his bunkmate underneath. Phen opened one eye, noticing a dark silhouette of an arm reaching down through an even darker room.
“Here, take these...quick!”
Liam opened his hand and two milky-white capsules with the letter “B” stamped on the sides were cradled in the palm of his large hand. “Hurry, my time is short, you must take them!”
Phen feeling groggy and slightly confused replied, “Huh? Why?”
“Shut up and take them, they are blockers, c’mon you zombie, you’re my last hope.” Phen robotically took the pills, and without thinking, swallowed them both.
“Boom, boom,” a door shot open and two bright laser lights searched the bunks.
“Liam O’Malley, report!” One of the huskier guards of the Termagant Force pushed her way in wearing riot gear and equipped with a high powered stun stick. “Make this easy on yourself MCP...Report!” Liam tried slipping silently off the top-bunk, but the creek of the springs alerted the responsive ears of the guards.
“Over there!” Two smaller Termagant officers bolted toward him. Liam was trapped. The room lights all flashed on, and Liam was fully exposed caught in the corner of two concrete walls of the bunkhouse. The Husky guard advised Liam with a cynical curl of her top-lip, “Turn around and put your hands behind your back.” Liam instead balled up his fists and took up a boxing position ready to fight.
“Stupid man, you know the code, ‘violence gives fuel to our violence!’”, the guard turned up the stun stick to full voltage, and slowly walked toward Liam. There was nothing he could do -- once the stick touched his bare forearm that was raised in a defensive position, an electric bolt dropped him instantly to the floor. Liam lost all muscle control and fell unconscious on the hard cement, foaming at the mouth, and lying in a warm pool of his own urine.
The two smaller bull-dog faced guards dragged Liam's large frame out the bunkhouse door. The large officer yelled, “One of you mutes clean this up, now!” A pencil thin drone named Ory responded in timid obedience, “Yes Sir, Mam, or should I say Cap’n Vic?”
“Major will do...now everyone get back to sleep, we will have to make up for that stupid slop’s lost work. The factory Regina will not like this!” After spitting Ory’s way, the husky woman lumbered out.
As if nothing happened, the rest of the half-awake drones fell back asleep while Ory mopped. Phen, however, felt a rush of something new, something wonderfully familiar. It was like embracing the arrival of an old friend. And his name was anger.
The following morning Phen awoke with a new set of eyes. While his muscle memory moved him forward to take his same position on the line, the gray clouds of numbness were no longer present. Recollection was occurring: His mind was flashing faded memories of faces, glimpses of those he loved, Dia, Drew, and Ara. He even remembered a line from a favorite children's book he would often read when his charges were small, “And Max, the king of all wild things, was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.”
Warm tears began to fall fast, life was beginning to arise in a man long dead. Phen stood there terrified, “What does this mean?”
“Ara, pay attention!”, Duenna Black barked. Ara couldn’t stop wondering to herself about Drew, “What if he is found out? Am I obligated to report all domestic troubles? And what if I don’t?”
“Ara, did you hear me? Today is vitally important for you to pay attention. Introduction into Colleen Camp begins in a few hours and you must be at your best or you could be left behind. You don't want to be a seamstress do you? Or Gaia forbid, a pedia-stooge, nursing infants and wiping bottoms.”
Ara looked nauseous, “Ew, no, who would ever want to be enslaved to that?” Duenna Black snidely smiled while the other girls laughed at the possibility of seeing the headstrong Ara surrounded by worthless whiners. But Ara regained her composure, being the brightest and most cock-sure of the class, and fell back fully attentive, listening to Duenna Black’s instructions:
“O.k. Girls, you all have turned 12, though some of you are awfully close to the cut-off date. Say goodbye to your Maureen years, no more endless cycles of princess movies and field trips to the theatre. No more learning about your favorite sport heroines. No more plastic dollies and playing stun guns with sticks on the neighborhood boys. For that matter, boys are no longer allowed to even address you as an equal without your consent. You are entering into the special status of a Colleen. No more games, now it is time to choose.”
Ara’s heart dropped, her brother was her best friend and she loved joining with him in playing Termagants and Exiles with the neighborhood ruffians. She even carried strange feelings for a blue eyed kid named Sky. But now I must become a Colleen? The first step to becoming a Regina, every brilliant girl wanted to be a Regina. Just think, seeing your very own image hanging over the city gate, or a company building, or even included on a financial institution’s cornerstone. Who wouldn’t want to be the first line of service to The Sisters?”
“Listen closely...your aptitude tests will be computed in a few minutes revealing which ribbon you will be assigned. I know your mothers have discussed this with you, but we must go over them again. You don't want to be caught off guard before the placement board and cast away right from the get go, do you?” Every girl in class, with eyes wide open, shook their heads with a desperate seriousness that fit the terrible mood of the day.
The Duenna cleared her throat and began:
“White Ribbons are for ‘Vitups’, practitioners of domestic law and prosecutors of male insubordinates. Passion, debate, and forthrightness are required to even be presented with a white ribbon. No female wall-flowers will be tolerated. You will learn the Vitups creed: ‘Outspoken and obnoxious - we won't be shouted down. Never relent, never stop - force of will to capture Regina’s crown!’”
Ara knew she was a perfect candidate for this color group. Elected “Feistiest of Class” she was sure to be honored with the white ribbon.
“Red Ribbons are for ‘Duennas’ like me: educators and scholars, professors and teachers, women of knowledge. I would dare say this path takes you to The Sister’s chambers of wisdom the quickest. In fact, every sitting Sister first wore red. I am hoping someday to be considered...well…ahem, let's move on.” Duenna Black walked to the window for a moment of reflection, wiped a small tear away, and then continued on.
“Tan Ribbons are for ‘Termagant Trainies’ - our security force: Those of you considering this route should also strongly consider gender re-assignment because the new hormone treatments for Termagants will all but extinguish any femininity you once possessed. Even though I find the new extremes that the Reginas in this practice have allowed and instituted, it has its purpose. Just think, it was only a century ago when cases of rape were still being reported in smaller towns.” The moment Duenna Black mentioned ‘rape’ every girl gasped as if Gaia herself sent a yellow thunder-bolt down upon the class. “Girls, you are becoming Colleens now, and shock is no longer allowed. Remember, we are women, full of fury and force. A fierce heart shows no fear.”
Many in the class choked back tears, afraid to expose their feeling of fragility. They all knew Duenna Black was made of dangerous metal.
“Pink Ribbons are for the ‘Dowagers’, the finer expressions of our gender: As much as I hate to say it, there is a strange power that lies behind beauty. Over the years, women have learned to harness their charm to capture the fortunes of the ignorant masses of men. And now plastic surgery has the ability to allow any person to transform into perfect form in a month's time -- lust driven men will run to a female’s beauty like fish to a worm no matter how artificial the anatomical structure is. Over the years I have grown to appreciate the pink brigade loaded with the most celebrated of singers, actresses, models and dancers. But if you choose this path, I must warn you, it is the most dangerous for any woman's heart. The primitive notion of love can creep in and catch you completely unaware, even to the point of overriding your reason where some women may even want to have their own...I can't say it...children.”
The class all at once grew silent. The thought of allowing an alien entity to inhabit your body was the first primal-fear taught to Maureens. Even a four year old girl knows the concept of pregnancy was designed by the ancient Christian cult to “enslave and dominate” women. Duenna Black herself once compared the birthing of children to the Great Plague way back in the 1200’s, when cavemen dwelled on earth.
“Those are the four great colors, and soon most of you will be on a path to power.”
A hand shot up in the back, “Duenna Black, which Ribbon allows for sports?”
A thin stiff lip appeared on the teacher’s face. Slowly she proceded, “Sports died out when more and more men were needed for drone work. The Sisters found that most of the need for sport was driven by the dying ‘father’ movement. When women no longer have male mentoring and adulation and they only have to compete with themselves, The Sisters have determined it is then, and only then, that the female ‘better natures’ take over. Testosterone fuels competitive drive, and the Termagents are the only group strong enough to properly harness the violent aggression that comes with it. When competition no longer matters, the human species stops caring who wins. At least that is what The Sisters want from a mature society. Any other questions before we go to see the social engineers?”
One girl gingerly raised her hand, “A boy down the street said sports died because women really aren't that good at it, and men are no longer allowed to compete.” The Duenna’s face flushed. She quickly responded by demanding the young girl to come up to the front. The rest of the class knew this was no small issue.
“Wack, wack, wack,” three direct slaps were issued to the girl’s face. Duenna Black issued a decreed, “This is a serious broach of protocol. Maggie Janis, I have not heard sentiments favoring male dominance uttered in this classroom for 15 years. You may not proceed to Colleen status, leave to the school magistrate at once.” The small girl exploded in sobs, “I wasn’t praising men, I didn’t know….”
“Get out!” With a crooked finger pointed, Duenna Black stood seething. The rest of the class held their breath, no one moved. The school bell rang which meant it was time. 30 girls no longer Maureens, but Colleens. A new pool of ruling elite, Deanna Black smiled, she prepared her girls well.
“Ara, before you leave, I need to speak with you!” Ara stood quiet, frozen in fear.
in your eyes - - I see the light and the heat
in your eyes oh, - - I want to be that complete
“In Your Eyes” Peter Gabriel
“Sometimes that shark, he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. Y'know the thing about a shark, he's got... lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be livin'... until he bites ya. And those black eyes roll over white, and then... oh, then you hear that terrible high-pitch screamin', the ocean turns red, and spite of all the poundin' and the hollerin', they all come in and they... rip you to pieces.”
I’ve noticed something, people don’t look each other in the eyes anymore.
Maybe it is because we are all so mesmerized by the tiny screens dancing on our phones or we are zoned in on the flickering pixels flashing on the flat piece of plastic and liquid crystals hanging on the wall. Whatever the case, we’re missing each other’s eyes.
The eyes as they say, are the windows to the soul. I believe it.
In my study on 1 Samuel 16 this week, I stumbled upon a very interesting portion of scripture. It is the first time we meet David, son of Jesse. Samuel the prophet is looking for the next person he is to anoint as king over the people of Israel. He is told to go to the house of Jesse and after seeing 7 of Jesse’s sons paraded before him, Samuel asks if there is anyone else?
Yes, Jesse has one more son, a young boy, maybe 15 or 16 at the time. He is the ragamuffin of the bunch who is stuck watching the sheep out in the fields. I don’t think Samuel was too excited about considering him as God’s possible choice, but God tells Samuel to anoint him anyway. When he arrives the narrator of the story describes him in this way:
“Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome.”
Ruddy means he had robust color of amber hair and sun-glazed skin. But the phrase "beautiful eyes" is what I want you to notice. We are quick to jump to the word handsome because we are drawn to attractive people. Handsome was also used to describe Saul when we first met him in 1 Samuel 9:2, but only David was described with having beautiful eyes.
I was curious to see if this distinction meant anything? Saul was handsome, so was David, but he also had the X-factor - - the beautiful eyes. In my research there seems to be the idea that beautiful eyes refers to a person’s countenance. “Handsome” refers to the physical symmetry of form and appeal; “Countenance” in biblical jargon is the visible display of a person’s internal attitude and spiritual state of the soul.
Saul was only handsome, a good looking man; David had life in his eyes. While Saul was impressive, David was compelling.
As I meditated on this little nugget of difference between the two words, I started realizing that there really is something to this. Have you ever noticed that people who know and want God have something beautiful about them? You can see it in their eyes!
If am sure, most of you reading this know exactly what I mean.
I will never forget a moment in my life when I came across a terrible person -- he was just plain mean and rude. He was the type of person who could rip you into a thousand broken pieces with just his words, and he didn’t even care. A friend who was with me said this to me after he left, “Did you see his eyes, they have no life in them?” No life in them.
But then there are those people whose eyes dance. There is laughter in a look. You know inside they are alive, happy, full of joy and it makes them beautiful. I have also noticed after you know someone for awhile you no longer notice how they look. It happens in marriage when you can look at your spouse and see their countenance when once you only saw their form.
Young love focuses on form and symmetry, old love sees eyes.
It is the eyes that really makes a person beautiful. Eyes that have hope. Eyes that are tender when they look upon your pain. Eyes that are hungry to hear the details of your personal story. Beauty is found in the eyes. I have know some of the most beautiful people that others call ugly. I have seen wrinkeled faces that display more youth than a blond haired 18 year old model who is only caught up in self.
I wonder, when this old broken down body is shed and traded in for a new one, will our eyes stay the same? Do you want to be seen as beautiful? Work on fixing your eyes, and the way to do this is by first working on your heart.