"For the Grace of God, which can save every man, has now become known, and it teaches us to have no more to do with godlessness or the desires of this world but to live, here and now, responsible, honourable and God-fearing lives."
Grace means freedom. It is a gift given to us by God that requires nothing on our part. Salvation and Christianity at the core is simply accepting what has already been done. That's it! When grace enters our life, everything with regards to gaining salvation and finding favor with God has been taken care of. So we are free - - I am free to just be me. So far so good, right? But hold on a second....If we are set free what is going to stop us from being slackers? What is going to hold back our dark side?
Huh? How, pray tell, will grace keep me from being a bad dude? How will my new found freedom keep me from doing as I selfishly please? How will grace motivate my congregation to get busy? As a pastor I am almost certain it will do just the opposite - - instead of people putting their nose to the grindstone they will go on a perpetual vacation, and that will leave me preaching to an empty congregation, won't it? I can't teach grace, I can't give people an out, I need to press guilt and shame and conviction to thier limits!!! If I want a productive church, I have to bring the "Fear of Condemnation" back into their lives again, don't I?
I just read a story concening this question by Abraham LIncoln about a horse and a fly. "My brother and I were once ploughing corn at a Kentucky farm, I driving the horse, and he holding the plough. The horse was lazy; but on one occasion he rushed across the field so that I, with long legs, could scarcely keep pace with him. On reaching the end of the furrow, I found an enormous chin fly fastened upon him, and knocked him off. My brother asked me what I did that for. I told him I didn’t want the old horse bitten in that way. ‘Why,’ said my brother, that’s all that made him go!”
There it is! If something isn't biting our butts like guilt, dissappointment at personal failure, the angry deacon with furrowed brow, or even the little old lady shakin' her cane at us nothing would ever get done. If mom didn't yell at lazy Johnny sitting on the couch he would sit there forever. Isn't that true with walking with God too? If we don't scare religious slackers with an eternity of hell people would leave God in heartbeat, right? For 23 years I went to church because I didn't want God bashing me on the head, or letting Satan sneaking up on me in a dark alleyway in the dead of night. I gave money to the poor so I too could look down on the greedy miser who didn't care.
If there is no fly there is no go! At least that is what we are told? And I bought it for a long time.
But Titus 2:11-12 says it is just the opposite. Grace, freedom, joy, and a satisfied God is what keeps us living right. Listen to this amazing quote by J. W. Sanderson, "To some men constant peril is the only spur to action, and many religions and psychologies are dependent on fear to keep their disciples in line. Fear, too, has a place in Christianity, but God has higher and more effective motivations than fear, and one of these is love. Often fear after a while produces only numbness, but love thrives on love."
And here is the real clincher, "Those who have the deepest appreciation of grace do not continue in sin. Moreover, fear produces the obedience of slaves; love engenders the obedience of sons!" Wow! All I can say is "Wow!"
Grace is designed to have me focus on one thing and one thing only, and Paul says it like this in 1 Corinthians 2:2, "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." Why? Because the cross brings me into the pulsating and living love of God. Can you believe it, Jesus took everything on his back for you? He was beaten, mocked, stripped, laughed at, spit upon, abandoned, humiliated and betrayed with a lyin' kiss all you for you!
You have to let this truth sit and soak, marinate in the reality that God gave you his Son. I believe - no -I know, those who really, really, really, really, understand this incredible gift change. I am convinced very few Christians understand what the cross really means. I say this because it seems like no one knows how to forgive anymore. If you can't forgive you have not really tasted freedom yourself.
You are free! And when you are set free you never want to go back to bondage. Why, in your right mind, do you want to go back to sin? Why? Why???? Because it tastes good? C'mon, like Turkish Delight in Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, it rots while sitting in your belly. It turns you into a surly brute. It makes you want what you eventually will certainly hate.
Listen to one more story about Abe Lincoln: After buying a female slave he turned to the woman and said, "You're free." She despondantly said, "Yeah, what does that mean?" Lincoln said, "It means you're free!" "Does that mean I can say whatever I want, I can be whatever I want, I can go where ever I want?" Lincoln said, "Yes, you can be, say, go wherever you want. You are free!" The young woman thought for a second, and with tears welling up in her eyes said, "Then I think I will go with you."
As Steve Brown in his book A Scandalous Freedom writes, "That is what God has done for us. It is what the Christian faith is all about. We have been bought with a price, the price of God's own Son. We now have a new master, one who, once he paid the price, set us free."
You are free, and you can do whatever you want. As for me, I'm following Jesus!
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
It was a passing comment, but it was enough to get me thinking.
"Pastor Chris, thank you for not apologizing in your sermon yesterday or for saying 'I hope you weren't offended' by Titus 2 as you discussed the women's role in the home." I asked my friend why she said that, and her answer was simple but straightforward, "I find that far too many people these days want God to cater to them -- and when he doesn't, they get offended! What ever happened to letting God be God and allowing his word to be over us instead of us thinking we can be over his word?"
Wow, now that was profound thought!
The more I thought about what she said, the more I agree, people are being offended in record numbers in our society, and often at the silliest things:
- "You look tired." What do you mean by that? Are you saying I am getting old?
- "You throw like a girl." How dare you, girls are just as capable as guys!
- "I know you are wearing a dress, but you have a beard. So, are you a man or a woman?" I am so offended, I want justice!
I once had a person leave our church because I didn't wave at them at a four way stop. As a pastor over time you get a bit gun-shy at all the offended people. I often wonder if preaching is even safe these days? Just by reading the Bible out loud in a public forum I may unintentionally offend someone. Two weeks ago just from reading the passage, "An elder must be the husband of one wife," I was genuinely worried that some disgruntled female would think the word husband was too gender specific. I debated with myself, "I shouldn't have read that because what if a smart woman puts 2 and 2 together and realizes Paul is saying men only are to be elders because no one ever heard of a female husband? Oh no, everyone will start believing that Pastor Chris is keeping misogyny alive and well at Kent City Baptist Church! Off with his head!"
But if I could be honest with you, my considerate and critically thinking reader, I am convinced that those who are the most easily offended, especially by God's word and sound preaching, are usually the most conceited and arrogant. Let me explain.
Last week I was listening to a debate on you tube. Two transgendered Canadians were accusing a professor named Jordan Peterson of excercising hate speech because they were 'offended' at his gender specific use of pronouns. They didn't like it when he said a man dressed up like a woman should be called a "he." They wanted this gender fluid person to be called either "ze" or "they". And because the professor refused to bow to thier demands, they felt he should be punished in some way under Canadian law. During the debate the professor gave the best definition for political correctness I ever heard, and listen closely...
"Political Correctness is an Ideological game; the objective is to make one player feel morally superior over others while taking an axe swing at the foundations of society. Here is how it is done: Step One - Identify an area of human endeavor which has a distribution of success, winners and losers, where there are some who are doing comparatively better and some worse. Step Two - define those as doing worse as “victims”, define those as doing better as "perpetrators". Step Three - Side with the victims and then point out who the enemies are. Vent your resentment on them, and then feel good about it without it requiring any work on your part. And continuously repeat.”
Brilliant strategy! This is exactly what is happening around America daily: people are claiming "offense" when in reality they are playing an ideological game of "King of the Mountain." If I can convince others you have offended me, I will gain the advantage over you. Popular consent and support for the victim is now at an all time high in our culture. And all it takes is for you to say you are "offended." I may even get some government money to boot!
What offends you? The flag? The cross? Someone did not smile when they passed you by on the sidewalk? The Ten Commandments? Someone's tatoo? Drums at church? Or how about someone drinking a beer? When you are offended at trivial things, it says more about you than it does about the person who offended you. Here is what lies deeper in the offended person's heart:
(1) Pride: When you are easily offended it often means you think you deserve to be treated in a certain way, or you think people owe you something. Why? Because you are better? Because you are a victim? Stop playing this silly ideological moral game - - you are the true divider.
(2) A Judgemental Spirit: Offense means you think a person is doing something against you in a malicious way. You don't know that? When a person calls a transgendered male a "he" they are simply trying to communicate. And seeing this as a microaggression of hate speech is emptyheaded and wrong. (And you better not get offended for calling that behavior emptyheaded!) You don't know why a person does the things they do? What right do you have to call someone homophobic, misogynistic, lazy, ignorant or any of the other polical attack lables that are being slung around like mud these days? Until you actually have a conversation with someone, you don't know them. Stop being offended.
(3) You are Scared of Honest Conversation: Once upon a time when a person acted less than their station in life their friends and family would call them immature. The Bible calls this sort of speech "admonishment." There needs to be a place where those who love you, or even your neighbors, can call you out, or at least discuss thier disagreements without being labled a hater. But now that everyone is offended at everything the only conversation allowed is "niceness." Plastic Walt Disney smiles are now taking over the world, yuck! It reminds me of what happened to American Idol, once Simon Cowell left the show it no longer had any judges who told the unvarnished truth. Sure he was harsh, and sometimes offensive, but at least he told you the truth. So when a singer's voice sounded like a wounded cat, he said they sounded like a wounded cat. But once he left the judges repainted the wounded cat into a person with potential, yuck! Dont you see, niceness is not the truth, in fact it keeps the wounded cat a howlin'!
The more we let the offended have thier way, the less real and humble we become as a society, as a family, and as a church. In truth, over the last few years this obsession with offence has really gotten under my skin...so much so, it offends me!
Charles Manson died yesterday! He must be in hell, right? Everybody thinks so. He is responsible for the seven Helter Skelter murders, he influenced young impressionable girls to run away from home and join his pot-smoking commune in the 70's, and he had a swastika tattooed right smack on the middle of his forehead. He surely will be first in line for the lake of fire?
Listen to some of the comments from the general public responding to the news of his death:
"Hell just got a little more crowded."
"Some people should just not exist."
"Well I guess we know where he went?"
See, everyone agrees, you can hear the angry mob carring torches and pitchforks, "Death to the rotten! Long live the rigtheous!" But wait, wait, wait, before we get carried away with confirmed condemnation I need to ask, is that how heaven and hell is decided? By consensus? Is entrance into the pearly gates a popularity contest?
If it is, then does that mean everyone who deserves to be on death row should go to hell, and those who kept their nose clean deserve heaven? Is that where we should start determining eternal lots? And if that is the case Jesus Christ himself wouldn't make it in...he was found guilty by a large jeering mob. Remember? "Crucify, crucify, crucify!"
And what about all of those who are wrongly placed on death row? What about those who are clinically insane, it isn't thier fault for the murderous rampages they go on? Is it? And if we let them off, Charles Manson was surely insane, wasn't he? I guess what I am saying, if hell is determined by consensus, then many will be eternally condemned that shouldn't be and many will make it into heaven that don't even want to be there. Some of you reading this will answer, "Well, why don't we just eliminate the whole idea of hell in the first place?" Well that isn't the answer either because that means Charles Manson wouldn't get what he deserved. It would be the hieght of injustice to let this evil criminal go. Listen to more comments from the angry public:
"There's gotta be a special place in hell just for him."
"Have fun burning in hell."
"Pathetic that this monster lived till 83, enjoy hell Charlie!"
See, everyone agrees, hell is the only justice for people like Manson, Hilter and Stalin. Back to consensus again, huh? What we need is some objective standard, some way to clearly delineate eternal destinations. For me, I choose to refer to the Bible to find the objective standards because I believe it gives us the only window into eternity. I think it is very clear and if you read it as you would a normal book, anyone can figure out the answer. So let's make it simple by asking simple questions looking for simple answers. I do this so we don't need to rely on fancy arguments by slippery people like Rob Bell, Pope Francis or even Joel Osteen. I think by mere reading you can figure it out for yourself.
Question One: Who is hell meant for? "Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matthew 25:41) This is Jesus talking and he confirms that there will be human beings that will follow Satan to hell. It was made for him and his rebellious angels. And those who follow him in his rebellion will join him.
Question Two: Specifically, who are considered the rebels, who goes to hell? "And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Rev. 20:15) In other words at the end of days, everyone will be judged (Hebrews 9:27). If your name is not in the book of life, you go to hell.
Question Three: How do you get your name in the book of life? "And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:11-13) So, life is found in Jesus Christ.
Question Four: How do I get the life of Jesus? "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1) "Then they said to him, 'What must we do, to be doing the works of God?' Jesus answered them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.'” (John 6:28-29) Pretty simple, life is given by faith in Jesus. Believing he actually lived, and died, and rose again.
Final Question: What if I don't believe in Jesus? "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:18) Not too difficult to understand, is it?
So to make it very simple, condemnation has nothing to do with consensus, but everything to do with not believing. Charles Manson didn't believe, in fact for awhile he thought he was God. Ironically that was Satan's first lie in the Garden of Eden, "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)
But here is where it gets scary: If you think you get in because you are not as bad as Charles Manson you are using the wrong standard. You are falling back on the consensus argument. The actual Biblical standard is simple: Do you really believe in Jesus Christ? Is he really your Savior? If not, you have more in common with Charles Manson than you think. And don't buy The Grateful Dead's lie either, "I may be going to hell in a bucket, but at least I am enjoying the ride." The ride may be fun, but the destination is not.
Think seriously on these things.
You’ve been there, it’s that moment when you have reached the limits of your patience. There was once something you deeply cared about, and after a long period of dissappointment and frustration with that certain thing, your heart says “I’m done, no more! All of the time, effort, and interest I have invested has accomplished virtually nothing for me ... so I am outta here!” Cultural experts have coined a new phrase for this moment as “Rage-quit.”
Definition of "Rage-Quit": when a person angrily abandons an activity or pursuit that has become frustrating...especially the playing of a video game, binge show or even a relationship.
I believe “Rage-quit” is reaching epidemic proportions all across the vast range of American life. Everywhere you turn it seems like people have “had it”, they "can't take it anymore" - - and instead of nonchalantly moving on, or changing their interests, they explode in rage. There are many examples of what I mean:
"The NFL Fiasco" : It has pitted player verse owner verse fan, and ratings are dropping like a dead bird out of a tree. Many people are just not watching, and not only that, they are spewing vitriol at one another while they click out. I once loved the ease of Sunday afternoon watching people chasing a pigskin, now I feel accossted and accussed and even lectured at every Sunday. It is hard to see a simple pastime be turned into a tug-o-war rope. It makes you want to "Rage."
Television Binge Obsessions: People have never been more loyal to their television shows as they are now. With the capability of binge watching people will sit and watch seven or eight straight shows in a row. God forbid if that show should start to lose it's luster. I can remember when "The Office" lost Steve Carell from the show, it just wasn't the same. But instead of saying "they had a good run" some people got livid it was over. "How could he leave? He ruined 'my show'." Think of that phrase, "my show." People now own shows, they find their identity in them. If you don't believe me read the chatter that has been going on with the latest season of "The Walking Dead." Critics have panned it, and reasonable people say it is atrocious, but die hard fans will never let go. They get so vitriolic about "their show" they begin to hate those who don't agree. The anger is so crazy, some people vebally hold up the middle finger and say "I'm never watching that d_________ show again...even though I was invested in it for seven years." Rage abounds!
Putrid Politics & Hated Hollywood: I really don't need to comment on this one. All I have to do is name names and I guarantee the veins on your neck will start to swell, and your face will turn beet red. Here it goes: Hilary Rodham Clinton, Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, Colin Kaepernick, Kelly Ann Conway, Debbie Schultz, Donna Brazil, and Kevin Spacey. All I know when I read those names I say, "I'm Out!"
Just Plain Everyday Life: People are losing it just day to day. Try being a pastor of a church and you will know what I mean...If people get in a dissagreement with another member they will quit and never come back. Or they might even take some guns and shoot up a whole congregation!!!!! Husbands have a hard time tolerating wives and wives mock their husbands. Most men hunt just to get away. We are all losing it! People aren’t happy. The satisfaction tanks all seem to be empty. Psalm 2:1 asks the question bluntly, “why do the nations rage?” I think there are three simple answers...
1) Human Pride spoils things. Look at the NFL, instead of playing football players and owners demand for respect and rights. Television shows like The Office were funny when people didn't know they were funny, but once they think they are funny, they no longer are funny. Pride ruins the product. And it is frustrating.
2) Human Selfishness demands things. We have so much we are satisfied with so little. When we were kids we only had three tv stations, and we never demanded more. Now with over 500 we are never satisfied, because we think we deserve it. The more we think we deserve things the more miserable and angry we become.
3) Human Hunger is only satisfied by one thing. This is the real answer to the question, "We are made for more!" Our hearts will never be happy until we realize God is the only one who can satisfy. If you think a show, a sport, a political candidate or even a relationship will satisfy all your longings you are a fool. The only one who can is Christ.
Why are you angry today? Why do you Rage? I will bet it is because of number 3 - - you really don't find your satisfactioin in your salvation and the wonderful person of Christ.
Chapter Twenty-Five: Back to Africa
by Tina Semanas
Underneath an orange festooned African headdress and colorful tribal tattoos gleamed a smiling Octavia Hulambu. She still couldn’t believe it, “Dr. Gladstone was actually dead?” Octavia’s mind was spinning. Sitting at her desk in the lush office on the campus of Smith College, Octavia dialed a familiar number on the desk speaker pad, “Hello, can you forward me to Roxanne?”
Answering the call on the other end was a militat female assistant in the Revolutionary Studies department of Scripps College. She replied, “I’m sorry, Professor Clement is commanding her class right now. She only has a few minutes left, she can’t be bothered, unless of course, you would like me to interrupt and pull her away from her instruction?”
“No, I wouldn’t want you to do that!” Octavia smiled enjoying the eagerness of the young woman’s blind dedication to her leader, “Oh, no, no, no...just tell her Octavia Hulambu called. Please inform her that the Chairman of the Doyenne Council has placed herself on permanent leave from her duties and it is time for us to begin ‘Operation October.’ Have her call me immediately.” Octavia hung up the pad with unrestrained glee. Shaking her head and humming with delight, she began singing a short refrain of, “Ding-dong the witch is dead! The wicked witch...that witch is dead!” Laughing to herself she said, “I still can’t believe it?”
Unlocking the center drawer of her desk file cabinet Octavia pulled out a large document with the Doyenne Council’s emblem of 5 turtle doves on the front and a red ink “Classified” stamped diagonally over it. The booklet quickly fell open to a dog-eared section titled “Replacement Protocol.” Octavia put on a pair of cat-framed glasses and began to slowly read out loud drinking in each word, sound and syllable :
“In the case of an unexpected death or termination of the acting Chairman of the Council, the Second Sister shall contiguously take on the full responsibilities of the acting Chairman. The Second Sister must then choose one of the remaining sisters as her Second…”
“Hmmm,” Octavia sat back, chewed on her pen and wondered, “That means that I am now acting Chairman...I am the head of the state...the new leader of the people...I am it!” Octavia moved her hand down to a section of the page that was already underlined in red with a hand scribbled note on the side margin, ‘Operation October begins here, Roxanne Clement as second…’. Octavia continued reading:
“If the new Chairman believes it is in the best interest of the state at the time, she may implement ‘Martial Law’ which gives her full legislative and military authority. The duration of that decree is directly set by the decision of the new Chairman with the help of the remaining members of the Doyenne Conclave.” Tapping on the page with her index finger she re-read it outloud again, “full legislative and military authority...set by the new Chairman...”
The pad on her desk began to buzz. She answered, “Hello, this is Octavia.”
“Yes, I have Roxanne Clement on the other end.”
Octavia took off her glasses and leaned back on her chair as she said, “Well Roxanne, are you ready for ‘Operation October’ to begin? The b - - - - is dead, it is time to begin fashioning the country the way we have been dreaming and planning for so long, it is time for Revolution!”
In a throaty voice, obviously still trying to catch her breath, Roxanne Clement, Professor of Revolutionary Change, replied, “Octavia, when my assistant just relayed your subtle hint that Dr. Gladstone died, I thought it was a joke? But I haven’t heard from her for a few days, and you know how controlling and paranoid that woman has become, I knew something tremendous must be astir! Now the path has been cleared and I know you are the one who has been ready for years to step through this unprecedented doorway of history. Lenin, Marx, Stalin, Hulambu...It is your time, and the people’s time. The winds of Revolution are upon us.”
Octavia smugly replied, “Yes, yes, finally! We have overcome!” Standing up to stretch and filling her lungs with fresh air, Octavia Hulambu felt inspired, “Roxanne, we are the new agents to bring that change! We must first dismantle the European stronghold this country has been under for the last 3 millennium. Dr. Gladstone and her poisoned Caucasian blood has once and for all been spilled, the fates have received her sacrifice, the guilt of her people must die and stay buried with her...allowing for us...the innocent...those born under bondage... to rise from the ashes like a Phoenix.”
Roxanne grunted in approval on the other end, “That’s right…”
Octavia was impassioned, “Roxanne, it is time to implement Operation October, to finally start the real revolution for all people of color! I have trained and instructed my staff from Smith College to be prepared for this moment. They will immediately be placed in all the strategic positions of the State’s Administrative positions of power, starting on the east coast; and I trust your people from Scripps is ready to begin on the west coast as well?”
“Yes they are!” An excited, fanatical, Roxanne replied.
Sitting back down, Octavia said, “I suggest we convene in the dead witch’s old headquarters at Oberlin as soon as possible. We must shut down all the presently active state organs of power, and we need to set up the new directives of the Revolution under our leadership. I want you to first notify the remaining members - Dr. Sorenson and Ara Dias - that the Doyenne Council has been dismantled forthwith, and then meet me in Ohio. Roxanne, you and I are the law now…”
The Tergament force that was on sight to witness the death of Dr. Gladstone at the lighthouse quickly took Ara, Athan and Drew into custody waiting for further instruction from their superiors. Locked in a local Tergament holding tank, the three were each isolated in small individual cells left wondering to themselves about their fate.
Ara knew her only hope to survive after the death of Dr. Gladstone was for the other Sisters to still consider her as an equal member with full rights and authority of the Doyenne Conclave. There was no reason the other three should have any personal grievances against her? Staring at the gray concrete wall, Ara shut her eyes tight allowing one small tear to escape as she said to herself - - “I miss my mom!”
In the next cell over, Drew was lying on the rock hard cot in his cell. He was spiralling down into inky black pools of depression fighting vivid flashbacks of the past year, all starting with the memory of a harmless backyard football game resulting in the crushed skull of the mother he loved. Horrific visions flashed: a genderless creature named Bee trying to get him to reshape his body into a fellow monster, living the life of a zombie in the Rivet factory, and barely escaping launched military rockets that decimated the Last Resistance post in Dayton. Despair was his bedfellow, whispering poisonous threats of exile, promising only a future of slavery. The grand feminist plan to snuff out the last vestiges of male dignity seemed all but certain. Drew knew he was a dead man walking.
And the third member of the captive party, Athan Stone, was left stewing over his own dark thoughts. His mind was fixed on one thing, one person, one face, one heart: Beck Paris.
Athan voiced a somber vow, “I will do everything within my power to show Beck how much I love her. If and when I get out of here I will not let any fascist feminine regime keep me from spending the rest of my life with my best friend...Beck...my soul mate.” Looking for a way out, he tugged at the steel door, but it was not budging. Was Beck O.K.? He wanted to be with her, he wanted to be the one to nurse her back to health - - but here he was, locked in some Tergament hell hole.
Falling to his knees Athan clasped his hands and cried out in the only way he knew how, “Dear God, I know I have seldom recognized your existence, but somewhere in the back of my mind I know you are good. Please God...more specifically, Jesus Christ... come and help me...and... help Beck. Keep her alive. Keep me alive. Only you can save any of us now. I place my life into your hands.” Athan unclasped his hands, letting go. A calm washed over him and a distant memory poured strength into his drained soul, “Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Rest.
Rumors, like flood water finding cracks, could not be contained. News of Dr. Gladstone’s death found its curious way between the chattering lips of friends, break room banter of co-workers, and even to the night time whisperings behind locked doors of anxious families. The mounting national realization that Dr. Gladstone was dead meant that the leader, the icon of female virtue, was no longer able to inspire and compel. Even though the glass ceiling of female leadership had been shattered for many decades, the one female that could actually lead the nation forward was shattered herself. Simone Gladstone, found dead.
For the regular citizen that meant her words could no longer soothe the emotional wounds of the people, no more motherly advice from the one woman that daily told individual citizens over the airways how to feel about themselves and their country, and no more champion of feminist ideology to lean on. Dr. Gladstone had become the sole nurturing voice speaking for all of the people. Now she was no more.
The news of her death caused a strange ripple effect throughout the country. Industry, commerce, manufacturing, entertainment all stopped. People went home to wait, waiting for a new national mother figure to emerge, the people needed to be told what to do? Watching their projection screens, the shell-shocked nation waited to hear from The Sisters. But there was only a fearful silence.
For two whole days every station ran a blank black screen. Timid and scared people sat at home on their couches stunned and silent. Doors were locked. Streets empty. It was more than national mourning, it was a collective dread. No one knew what the future held.
A society with no god, no guiding light, carries dread heavy.
But then, like a bolt from the blue, Octavia Hulambu, the Second Sister, went live. Her image and voice displayed large on every station, every flat pad small screen, every P.A. System on every public street as she voiced her first words as the nation’s new leader: “People of the State, as you know, our grand leader, Dr. Simone Gladstone has passed away and along with her the fragile tottering government she helped build. It has finally and catastrophically fallen...only rubble and ruin remains. The reigns of power have been legally handed over to me and it is time for a new nation to be formed from the broken bricks and twisted rebar left by her failed system of governing. The Sisters as they were once configured, are no more.”
All those watching, virtually the whole nation, couldn’t pull their eyes away; not only was Octavia a masterful orator, but her words shook every person down to their primal core. She continued, “It is time for a new kind of people to emerge from the shackles of the bondslave and the oppressed. People of color, Arise! The notion that feminism alone can lead you to the promised land has proven itself a fanciful lie, a tale told by fools, a tower built on sand. The very foundation laid by the Doyenne Council has been tainted with the poison of white utopian principles, leaning on the cold dead stones of reason and science, framed by the bankrupt constraints of Western thought.”
“But this child of the slave cries, ‘No more!’ We must call forth the ancient bedrock of ‘Blood, Passion and Color’, we must get back to our roots, a new spirit must be birthed from the old animal spirit that has lain dormant for millennium under the soil of the earth - - it is time for the full spectrum of the ancient tribes to emerge, no longer washed out by the racial bleach of Europe. We must be called back to Gaia, our mother, dance near her life-giving fires, marching to the beat of the tribal drum, forming a new self as our ancestors once did under the same moon and stars that shines on us today.”
Octavia held up her hands and looked fiercely into the camera: “Today, the call for ‘Blood, Passion and Color’ will guide all of us.”
Athan could hear the pulsating and powerful orations of Octavia’s rhetoric echoing down the stone walls of the holding cells. Ara wondered what this meant for her? Everywhere you went, Octavia’s compelling visage could be seen blazing under the ornamented headdress of her African tribal pride.
“A new society of Color starts today.” She continued, “which entails three initial decrees:
Octavia sat down and in a motherly tone said, “Years of inequity will be turned back, the slave will become the master, the master the slave. 'The Spectrum' society begins today! All wrongs will be righted, retributive equity for the marginalized. Finally, a freedom that has never been experienced before.”
Octavia Hulambu proved better and stricter than her word. The old Sisters’ state was completely disassembled. In it’s place The Spectrum took over every vestige and organ of power. White women of European descent all over the country were beginning to feel the full force of the cleansing they once exacted on others. Xenon green was not just meant for men anymore. DNA stations were set up in every cleansing factory across the country. The male worker drones found with a DNA of racial color were set free. But the ravages of Xenon poisoning left most of them to wander - - senseless millions with no ability to function resorted to sleeping on streets, begging for food, families who forgot them, nameless strays left to die. Chaos was the new society’s norm, and death became the handmaiden of the mindless.
As for Ara and Drew, after three weeks of incarceration and isolation, Octavia Hulambu was quick to forgive their association with the death of Dr. Gladstone. In fact she felt a sense of obligation and pity for the 12 year old Ara Dias - - she was too young to be caught up in the political claws of the dreadful Gladstone woman. Before both her and Drew were released with a large monetary compensation for her time on the Doyenne Council, they still had to be checked by the DNA scanner to make sure they passed Spectrum’s proper blood percentages. After submitting a sample of blood, both of their results revealed a minimal amount of the European stain. 65 percent Argentinian origins, 20 percent Austrailian and faint readings of German and Polish blood meant they were to be set free. Tattooed with the official Spectrum Seal - a rainbow triangle prism on their left forearm - they were given complete clemency and a new lease on life.
Athan faced a darker future. While preparing for his reading, a “Color” officer, replacing the old Tergament guard, stepped up to draw his blood. Inserting Athan’s sample into the scanner, a 95 percent European reading was his result; he was found to be guilty, a direct descendant of British and Irish ancestry. That meant certain exile, he was to be ostracized from the general public, a racial pariah. As he lingered in his cell, Ara and Drew came daily to speak to him through the small slit in the steel door. He was told he had three days left before he was to be shipped out to Lawrenceburg, the closest cleansing facility in the Midwest.
The day before his deportment, the Color officer opened Athan’s door and handcuffed his hands, “Prisoner Stone, follow me” the guard commanded. Winding through the dark passageways of the holding cells, Athan was met by Ara and Drew. “We have asked Octavia for a special session with you in one of the larger padded meeting rooms. She agreed, but for only and hour. Your blood count of 95 has made you a marked man - but because all three of us had helped bring down Gladstone, she offered you this single hour.”
Before entering the room, the guard unlocked his handcuffs and opened the door to the meeting room. Inside waiting for Athan was a host of familiar friendly faces: Don, Phen, Jonathan and in the back sitting was a woman in a wheelchair. He knew that face, her smile always melted him...it was Beck. There she sat sporting a new hair color of chestnut brown, but she couldn’t disguise those brilliant blue eyes! Running over to her he bent down giving her a soft embrace. “Are you O.k.?” Her arms grabbed tight around his shoulders, not wanting to let go.
“Beck, will you forgive me for how harsh I was to you. You need to know I love you more than anything.” Athan was pleading with eyes swelling with tears.
“Athan, I love you. And there is nothing to forgive you for. Just hold me.” Beck said with tears streaming as well.
After giving Beck and Athan a few minutes to themselves, Don and the rest of the group joined them huddled in the corner for a brief conversation. Phen had his arms around Drew and Ara, and Jonathan pulled a large table for them all to sit around. Don began, “Athan, listen to me. Do you still have the small item I gave you before you left?”
Grabbing in his front pant pocket he pulled out a single silver tube, “Yeah, here it is. What is it?”
Don looked around and whispered, “If you pop the top of the cylinder, inside are two milky white Xenon blockers. Phen has a glass of water for you to swallow them down now. But do it subtly, cameras are everywhere.”
Handing a glass of water to Athan, he quickly splashed down the two capsules with no effort. Swallowing the whole glass he made it seemed like it was simply thirst he needed to quench. Don continued, “Now those pills will stop any numbing effect, but you must act as if the drugs in the plant are causing you to lose all emotions and will-power. Samuel and Thomas are not here because they needed to bring batch two of the water blockers back to the bottling plant. The first batch was destroyed by the attendants.”
Athan asked, “How did you all make it here without detection? And there is no way Beck passed the DNA testing?”
Phen replied, “The new Spectrum Society considers all members of the Hocking Hills community as indigenous people of color. They visited the Rim and gave each of us a Prism stamp without needing to draw blood. Before they came in to check we made sure we all had a tribal look, that is why Beck is now a dark haired brunette!”
Beck showed the tattoo on her forearm smiling, “Athan, I kind of like chestnut brown, in fact it is closer to my natural color.”
“I love it!” Athan said.
Don said, “Athan, we don’t have much time left, but once the people begin to drink the water with blocker solution you need to act. It will not be hard to overthrow the small contingent of guards with a whole army of awakened angry minds. I figure it will take two weeks for the new water to take effect, then you can easily lead a revolt. Can you hold out that long?
Athan replied, “Absolutely. Can I talk to Beck alone?”
Phen and Don both nodded, walking to the other end of the room with the others, leaving Athan and Beck to talk privately.
“Beck, how are you feeling?” Athan kneeled down holding her hand.
“I’m fine. Don says my body needs another month of rest before I can really start putting weight on my legs and pelvis. But that Nika woman is a miracle worker.” After kissing Athan’s forehead, she looked right into his eyes and asked, “Can you do this? Will you be O.k.? I honestly will not be able to make it without you.”
Athan paused, and taking both of her hands in his he said, “Two weeks will be nothing compared to living a lifetime with you.” Leaning closer, he said softly but intently, “Beck, I have one question before I leave: Will you marry me again? Under the Rim? Having a real Christian wedding?”
Waiting for an answer, she replied, “Yes, I will Athan... I so will! Yes, yes, yes!”
Two Color guards entered the room, “Athan Stone’s time is up. Ara and Drew Dias you also must leave, the allotted time Octavia has given you here at the outpost has expired. Say your last goodbyes, Athan Stone is no longer considered a citizen of our new Society.”
Each member in the group hugged him, and then left the room. Athan would not leave before he shared a final kiss with Beck. She didn’t want to let go. The guard walked in between them and then grabbing Athan by the arm, the guard pulled him out of the room and into the hallway. Turning Athan around to put the handcuffs back on his wrists he noticed a smile, “What are you so happy about Stone? You are being shipped off tomorrow...and you’re smiling? There must be something wrong with you?”
Athan turned to him with an expression of pure joy, “I’m smiling because she said ‘Yes!’ Beck Paris said ‘Yes’!”