Archive for August, 2008

31
Aug
08

Cleansed By Fire, Part 13

For the previous installment of this story, click here

There is also a link under “Categories” in my sidebar for Cleansed By Fire, to more easily access all the installments of this novel; alternately, you can click on the “cleansed by fire novel” link under the Tags heading for this post (or click here) for a complete listing of installments.

Cleansed by Fire

Chapter 3, Narrow Paths and Wide Gates (continued)

From Stavin’s perspective, partial success was almost as bad as total failure. And he held special contempt for anyone who had a critical duty and did it almost perfectly until the very end. He regarded the freshly sealed wound on Emil Standish’s cheek, motioned for him to keep silent and wait, frowned, turned away from him, then spun quickly and struck him on his other cheek so hard the man stumbled, almost righted himself, then stumbled again before he caught his balance and stopped flailing his arms.

But he didn’t actually fall. Once again, Stavin thought, the man couldn’t get it quite right. Either stand your ground solidly or hit the damned floor.

“Emil, it might have been better for you if the second sister had struck the cheek I just did with her little poisoned needle.” Stavin paused. “I presume you were threatened with just that?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Was I unclear in my instructions to you on how to comport yourself?”

“No, sir. It’s just that…”

Stavin swept Emil’s legs out from beneath him and when the man’s hindquarters hit the floor, he said, “Please, have a seat, Emil. Don’t embellish your answers unless and until I ask you to do so. Is that crystal to you?”

“Very clear, sir. Yes.”

“These two women have been commissioned to deliver an extremely important parcel on our behalf. What made you think your handover of the datastrip and sliptrans remote was a good time to let your xenophobia bleed from your pores?”

Emil didn’t respond. Stavin circled his right hand in a “hurry” gesture and told the man, “This would be a time for you to embellish.”

“I don’t have any excuse, sir.”

“As embellishments go, that wasn’t very inspiring. Secular Genesis combats the tyranny of religion, particuarly the Vatican and everyone in the Catholic Union who is loyal to it. We are not out to insult the Ishmaeli. Or the Mandarin. Or the Isaacians.”

“Or, if you should find yourself doing some recreational diving, the Atlanteans either,” said a female voice from the edge of the room, where several observers sat.

“Just so, Kylie,” Stavin said. “I was so focused on our spacefaring brethren I forgot to mention them. The point is, Emil, that we understand that you, as an individual, see whole-genome manipulation as a crime against humanity. That to you, Ishmaeli and others of their ilk are a sign of the elevation of science to godhood, and thus a religion equally as repugnant as Catholicism or any other. True?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Honest about it. Good. We’ve always known this about you and most of your real friends in the movement. Not that you would have put it so eloquently as I did, but believe me, we’ve done our homework and know you better than you do. We welcomed you into our fold because, frankly, we agree with your view on that matter of some scientists fancying themselves gods.”

“Uh, thank you? Sir.”

“I don’t think you want to thank me just yet. Emil, the Vatican controls two continents completely and a good chunk of a third. Might it not be logical to focus on the biggest threat first? Neo-sapiens are just about dead-last on our list of threats. Frankly, the real threat is the science and the scientific justifications that make those species possible, not the beings themselves.”

“Yes, sir,” Emil said, a dubious tone in his voice.

“Fortunately, Emil, I think there is about nil chance of those two Ishmaeli reneging on us. It just wouldn’t be professional. So, you haven’t scuttled our plans,” Stavin said. “But for even raising the spectre of such a botch, what do you think I would feel tempted to do?”

Without skipping a beat, Emil said, “Kill me.”

“Kill you? Emil, that you think I am either that predictable or so lacking in creativity simply astounds me. No, I am going to tape a packet to your chest that contains datastrips and hard docs of all your many ramblings on the SystemGrid and conversations with certain people in Secular Genesis about the horrors of neo-sapiens and their utter lack of humanity. And I am going to send you back to the Sisters of the Red Sun with a note that both that packet, and you, are a special gift to them. Our apology to them.”

Emil gaped as the observers and Stavin began to leave the room, and then Stavin turned and smiled.

“Nice working with you, Emil.”

***

In a small recovery cubicle, Adam Devan lay in a bed, awaiting the inevitable hour or day that he would be shipped off to a work farm, if he was fortunate. Ashamed as he was to admit it, he dwelled more on his own mutilation and his dubious future than he did his former fiancee’s fate. Adam was fit and young, a former flipdisk player in university, and he might be sent to a work farm as Lyseena had decreed or he might be culled one day to be fitted as a drone for a Dry Sister.

Elisya would be sent off to the Dry Sisters, but no one had cut anything off of her. If she took and kept the vows, she could still have some kind of existence outside of a lifetime of forced labor or becoming the bodyguard-pet of one of the crones. A crone his own lover might yet become.

It was her fault, he decided. Just like Adam was tempted by Eve, so Adam Devan had been tempted by Elisya Sutco. Her fault. Bitch. Still physically a woman, while I’m reduced to a thing.

He worried more for Enn, who had helped the couple arrange their liaisons. The inquisitors had been asking about Enn this morning. Probably Elisya had given his name up to them. There wasn’t much Adam could tell them about Enn, but it was still unpleasant being subjected to their methods long enough for them to believe that.

He lay there, glowering and swearing, for some time that morning. Later, a small flash of light and movement on one of the medical monitors would catch his eye, and he would find himself crying as well, still blaming Elisya but now cursing another name, too.

Scrolling across the monitor lazily was the message: God made the wages of sin to be death in the beginning, Adam. Be thankful you were only required to give your manhood in the name of the cause. God bless you, –Enn

When the message winked out, Adam had no idea what cause his loss had served. He only knew that he felt more alone than ever before.

***

The woman called Kylie caught Stavin by the arm on the way out of the room where Emil was being packaged up for the Ishmaeli twins. Her arms were thin and her fingers liver-spotted, but both were still strong, and her grip almost made Stavin wince.

The other observers had gathered around as well.

“We have much at stake here, Stavin,” she said. “There is no room for adjustment. The window of opportunity is open but a crack. Are you certain Emil has not compromised us?”

“The hirebrand code lies above any other. You know that. Once they take a contract, they carry it out. The sisters will do their task. They would do so even if they discovered our package was set to wipe out an Ishmaeli station-home with their own parents aboard,” Stavin said without hesitation.

“Then why the theatrics with Emil? I’m as cold-blooded as the next when it comes to keeping discipline, but…”

“But what? What if we need the sisters in the future? Nothing in the hirebrand code requires them to agree to a job; only to carry it out once accepted. Emil could have just jettisoned our chances of hiring them again. And I’ve never seen a squad of hirebrands do what the twins can.”

“Then my next question would be, can we trust that the hellpod will do what we need it to?”

“None of us know who Nemesis is, Kylie,” Stavin said, though he turned to look at the others to include them. “But he has never failed to prove his skill, and he has never failed to help advance us forward in our fight. If he says the activation code will arm that pod, it will arm that pod.”

He paused, and smiled broadly. “This is a good day, everyone. Soon the Vatican will know what it is like to suffer the flames of hell.”

(To read part 14 of this story, click here.)

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30
Aug
08

Pregnant Pause by Miz Pink

I’m quite pregnant. I have reached that stage where I am simultaneously overjoyed to be hosting a growing life inside me while also wanting the damned human out of me as soon as possible.

I’ve been down this road twice before. I knew it was coming.

As a roughly 7 months pregger chick myself I’m a little wigged out by the story that McCain’s newly announced sidekick Sarah Palin may not be the actualy mommy of her fifth kid..a kid she announced when she was supposedly 7 months pregnant but not showing and not having told anyone before then she was pregnant. Hmmmmm.

This story has been making the rounds quite a bit. One place you can see it retold is here. I won’t get into all the gory details here.

I don’t like conspiracy theories because they get used often enough against the left-leaning politicicans that I enjoy supporting. I’m not interested in spreading rumors by saying I believe this story, because I just don’t know how credible it is.

But just for the sake of argument, let’s say that Sarah Palin removed her pregnant daughter from high school and kept her hidden from folks for a while, announced that she herself was pregnant even though she wasn’t showing and apparently no one knew she was with child, and then went on to pose as this child’s mother instead of her daughter stepping up to the rightful role of mother.

Let’s just say.

Because if it is true, and I’m not saying it is, it will be a huge insult to me and to any other pregnant woman who believes in our power to choose what will be done with our bodies.

Sarah Palin is the kind of person who would see Roe v. Wade overturned. More than that she is the kind of person who would love to see abortion not only cease to have federal protection but probably to be outlawed in all 50 states. From what I’ve read, she rejects abortion even in cases of rape and incest. This is a dangerous woman to other women. Period.

If this is the kind of stance she takes…that women have to always give birth no matter what…and if it turns out she covered up her daughter’s pregnancy and claimed it as her own…then why doesn’t her daughter have to stand up and claim her own pregnancy? Why doesn’t she have to face the possible shame or embrassment or even responsibility of shouldering her own child burden?

And moreover, why does her mother get to lie and look like a frickkin supermom who doesn’t show at 7 months, breaks water in the middle of a speech, gets on a flight, and goes to another state to give birth?

Again, I don’t know that all that’s true. But it sure sounds pretty fishy to me.

A woman who would do all this is a woman who is one of the worst kind of frauds. I hope it’s not true becuase it would be another example of glaring hypocrisy on the part of a right wing Christian nutjob…and that crap makes people like me look bad just because I’m Chrisitian too.

29
Aug
08

It’s Just a Crucifixion

OK, I’m probably already on shaky ground with the headline for this post, because saying “it’s just a crucifixion” is kind of like saying, “sure, that woman was raped and tortured, but at least they didn’t damage her face.” Just bear with me. I have a point, truly, and it might even be a good one.

So, this morning I was catching up with my main blogs, and saw this post at Deus Ex Malcontent. (The original MSNBC story on the controversy is here, and I’ll copy past it in the comments after I post this in case the link should change later.)

First off, I felt I had to produce a valid excuse to use that crucified frog image to your left, because it’s just so freaking weird and absurd, but as it turns out, it has inspired a real meat-and-potatoes topic for today.

Second off, it’s just a crucifixion, folks.

If Elmer Fudd runs his finger across his throat with a “hhrrrrkkkkktt” sound to threaten Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck, do we get up in arms about how it disrespects people who end up getting Columbian neckties? Is every overblown scene of someone being zapped to hell in the electric chair (whether in a drama or a cheesy horror flick) an insult to those families who have had loved ones executed that way?

Crucifixion was a terrible and cruel form of execution, let there be no doubt. I said as much in my post What Jesus Endured. But it was a form of execution that was practiced on tons of other folks prior to Jesus, and after him as well. That Christians chose to pick a symbol of Christ’s crucifixion as the major symbol of the faith is all well and good, but Jesus wasn’t the only person to be nailed to a tree wearing only a loincloth. The people who built up the institutions around our faith in Jesus picked an image that was very stark and intense, but also one that could be easily misused. The crescent and star of Islam and the Star of David for Judaism are more abstract and maybe we would have been better served with something more along those lines. Maybe we should move more toward the fish symbol or flying doves or something if we can’t handle the crucifixion being used in art in a less-than-flattering manner.

And yes, when someone “mocks” the image of Jesus crucified, it is in many cases an attempt to ridicule or slight Christianity. So what? Even if that’s the case here—and I’m not convinced it is—didn’t Jesus tell us we would catch a lot of shit for following him? Let’s take our hits like grown men and women and move on. Whining and bitching like little babies isn’t going to get us respect and it isn’t going to change attitudes.

In the end, being killed (and how) isn’t what makes Jesus special. What makes him special is how he lived (sinlessly), why he died (for our sins) and how he followed up that death (by rising back to life and ascending to the right hand of the Father).

Moreover, Jesus never asked us to defend him. He doesn’t need to be protected by us. He can handle his own business. He told us to lift him up in glory when we interact with others (or at the very least not deny him) and to be shining lights for him. That means showing Christ-like character, not trying to prevent people from mouthing off about Jesus.

28
Aug
08

Looks Like a Fish…

So, look at the picture for today’s post. Is it a fish? Or is it a bunch of fishes?

Yeah, sure, the easy answer would be to say, “Both.” But is isn’t a single fish, now is it? The individual fishes in formation present the image of a fish, but image isn’t always reality.

Looking like a fish doesn’t make it a fish. Certainly, it would smell like a fish and feel like a fish, too, with all those individual fishes—but that still doesn’t make it a fish.

So, too, a bunch of people who are Christians together in one place doesn’t make a church. A congregation, perhaps, but not a church. Doesn’t matter how much it looks like a church, smells like a church, sounds like a church or feels like a church. Because the things that make a church a church are not the people nor appearances, but something altogether of another realm.

Faith. Spirituality. Devotion.

Jesus told us:

Wherever two or more gather in my name there I am in their midst.

Christianity contains “Christ” but it is not Jesus’ name. Jesus’ name was not “Christianity” and it wasn’t even “Christ.” Christ is a title, not a name. People who gather in buildings because of Christianity aren’t necessarily making up a church. Because unless Jesus is at the heart of it, it’s just a get-together.

27
Aug
08

Will the Real Antichrist Please Stand Up?

OK, just a quickie today.

Does anyone know for certain which one is the Antichrist and which is the False Prophet?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Oh, you’re not sure, either? Damn!

(Every time I think Little Girl Blue is about to rid herself of the taste of these two characters and keep to something more well-written and truly educational, like Arthur or The Magic Schoolbus or something, she has to ask to watch one of these monstrosities again. And again. And again. I never thought I would pine for the days of Barney.)

26
Aug
08

Celebrate!

Sometime this morning, I logged my 10,000th hit at this blog. Now, to be honest, I don’t know whether that’s good or not for a blog that’s been around since mid-February and had posts almost every day to read. I think I’m not in the dumper anyway, and I’m grateful for every reader I have.

Thanks to those who like what I read and tell me how good I am.

Thanks to those who maybe or maybe don’t like what I say and challenge me.

Thanks even to those who think I suck and tell me so.

Thanks to everyone.

So, today’s a special day and I’m making it a busy one. In addition to the two Two-Fer Tuedays posts as usual, I also have another installment in my blog novel Cleansed By Fire to follow up the previous installment just a few days ago.

26
Aug
08

Two-fer Tuesday: Jesus by Deacon Blue

As I noted recently, I mention Jesus a lot but don’t really address him directly and as a specific topic as much as I should. Who he is. Why he’s important. What you need to know about him. Today’s “two-fer” topic is another step in the right direction toward correcting that, along with my August 8 post What Jesus Endured.

As a topic, “Jesus” is pretty broad, but I guess that’s kind of the point of these two-fer’s, so that Miz Pink and I will rarely tread over each other’s points on Tuesday. What I want to focus on is what was said about Jesus in the Book of Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 2, that he is the “author and finisher of our faith.”

Author of Our Faith

To me, this one is really interesting. On the one hand, it clearly indicates that Jesus has “written” out for us what to do. He did it through verbal teachings and actions, of course, and others wrote it down later, but he’s still an author. He had written out the plot lines for our lives and let us know the things we need to do and why.

But what really makes this resonate is the statement in the Gospel of John, chapter 1, which tell us in part (in verse 14):

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

Not only is Jesus author of our faith, he is also the very Word of God in the flesh. We have the Word in the form of the Bible now, but it was fully realized in one place in the human body and godly spirit of Jesus Christ. He’s not just the author of our faith, he is the embodiment of the whole story of creation and eternity.

Finisher of Our Faith

In the one sense, you could say that this ties back to Jesus being author/story, and he is the dramatic conclusion. But more fundamentally, he is the person who corrected the basic problem of the world: the lack of spiritual connection between humans and God. It took one very special person to screw it all up (and make no mistake, Adam and Adam alone is to blame; Eve played a part but her decision wasn’t what started the ball rolling). And it took one much more special person to fix it once and for all.

There is a reason that Jesus told people “No one comes to the Father but through me.”

Jesus walked the walk, talked the talk and did everything he was supposed to. Everything that we are supposed to but don’t, he did for us.




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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Jeff Bouley

To find out more about me professionally, click here. To find out more about me generally, click here.

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