book

Excerpt from “Tojet”

A fairy tale for adults.  A mysterious girl named Tojet appears in a convent-run school one day.  Two teachers, Sister Elizabeth and oddly-named Merkit Terjit, take her under their care.

But is she a lost, imaginative orphan or a time traveler with fairy powers?  How does she know who Merkit is and how he was named?

Tragedy drives her away, but she returns as a young, beautiful woman, far more mature than she should be.  She shows Merkit a world of obsession and dark fairies.

He can’t help falling in love with her, but what about the monastic vows he’s about to take?  Can he fight the temptations that surround him?

Available for purchase here and here.  An excerpt:

 

The next morning, a Saturday, Merkit sat with Tojet in the kitchen after breakfast as Barb ran some light errands.  He talked with Tojet about school, but she kept yawning.

“Didn’t you get enough sleep last night?” he said with a grimace that was supposed to be a smile.

“Well, no,” she said.  “I came back too late in the night to get all my ten hours.  I came back when the fairies woke me up.  They said I’d fallen asleep, and should go to bed.”

“Fairies? You saw fairies?”  Merkit crossed his arms to block a sudden chill.

“I want you to be my friend, so I want you to know everything about me,” she said.  Her tone was matter-of-fact as she explained, as if every other child went to visit fairies across the ocean in another time every night.  Yet as he listened to her story, Merkit felt as if he himself had been there, had gone to dance with the fairies, had gone to a fairy ring on a hill in the forest around Silva at midnight, had seen a full moon. . . .

There, a full moon shone through the treetops.  Mushrooms sprouted up in the meadow in a ring large enough to fit a few human-sized fairies, if there were any.  Tojet looked like a fairy herself in her white lace dress, the same she’d worn at their first meeting, so yes, there was one.  Merkit leaned his arm against a tree trunk to watch.  His cloak billowed down from his arm and around his shoulders in the evening breeze.

The moonlight couldn’t penetrate the trees of the surrounding wood, and lit only the little ring.  Deer, squirrels, mice, and other animals crept up to the ring to watch the strange creatures, but moved no closer.  Powder-scented, naked elves and pixies of both sexes danced inside the ring on the mild, May night.  Their nakedness was no surprise: drawings and paintings often showed them that way.  The fairies were of various sizes, some tiny and with butterfly wings, some larger and without wings.  Fairy musicians with fairy flutes, lutes, panpipes, fiddles, harps, tambourines, cymbals, and jaw harps played reels and softer, sweeter melodies. Merkit wanted to join the leaping, spinning fairies, but Tojet called to him,

“Don’t come in the ring.  You’ll have to join in if you do, and then you’ll get a wasting sickness, like consumption, or you’ll find out a century has gone by the time you get out again.  Only I can join in, until you marry me–then you can, too.”

Some fairies left the dancing to find private spots in the darkness of the treetops and bushes.  Tojet saw them go, but looked away again, ignoring them. When Merkit cried out in surprise, she looked at him.

“They’re fairies,” she said, shrugging, “not humans.  I don’t think they keep that stuff between a man and his wife.  They have totally different rules for what’s a sin and what’s not.  For example, if you step in the ring, they think it’s right to make you dance till you get sick, because you broke the rules.”  After unfastening and unbraiding her pigtails, she continued dancing.

Two blue cat-eyes appeared by a tree outside the ring, then the full-sized woman they belonged to.  She was several inches taller than Merkit.  Her middle-parted, blonde hair fell in both curls and tiny plaits to her knees.  Two braids circled her head below a wreath made of leaves and lilies of the valley.  Her slanted eyebrows, tiny nose, pointy ears, butterfly wings, and enchanting beauty showed her to be a fairy, probably the queen or princess of the fairies.  She was also the only fairy wearing clothing.  She wore a sleeveless, knee-length dress woven of gauzy, green spider silk, and only a small shift underneath.  Queen Anne’s lace circled her wrists.  She wore no shoes on her three-toed feet.  She smelled like violets.

A fog filled Merkit’s mind until he forgot his own name.  He forgot he was a married and God-fearing man.  Who was he?  What had he done, what had he been before this night?  He shook his head, but couldn’t clear it.  All he saw was the fairy queen.  He wanted her with a primitive, nature-worshiping lust.

He forgot all his objections to the fairy behavior.  The queen’s slight and perfect, small-breasted, curved figure beckoned to him.  He forgot he’d ever even had a wife.

He forgot he’d ever been anywhere else but there in the forest.  He forgot who Tojet was.  The fairy queen’s red, Cupid’s bow mouth curled up in a seductive grin.  He imagined taking her to the side of the ring and lying on the ground with her.  He forgot Tojet’s warning.  In his mind, he kissed every inch of her heart-shaped face and pointy chin, holding her tightly, but careful not to tear her delicate wings.

He shook off his fantasy.  He stepped around the ring and toward her to kiss her and act it out.  She put her arms around him, letting him kiss her and press his body against her.

“No!” blasted across the ring.

They both turned to Tojet.  She glared at them with her cat-eyes.  Her own childish beauty showed despite her frown, and perhaps because of it.  The fairy queen obeyed the human child and gently pushed Merkit away.  Merkit looked at her again, disappointed.  He saw the lust in her own eyes.

“It must not be,” she said in a voice like the tinkling of a dripping faucet, or a dewdrop splashing on the tin roof of a garden gnome’s house.  “You are to stay pure, and I am not the one who belongs to you.”

The fog cleared a little; the memory of his wife and Tojet now returned to him.  At first he thought the fairy queen meant his wife, but somehow he knew she meant Tojet.

“But Tojet’s only a child,” he said.

“Of course she’s not yours now, but she will not be a child forever.  She’s half grown-up already, and once she’s fully grown, she’s yours.”

“Don’t make him a slave with your kisses, please, Your Majesty,” Tojet said.  “He’s not meant to be your boyfriend.  You and your fairies promised him to me.”

Merkit blinked.  He now remembered where he came from.  “Why me?” he said. “Why not someone in her own time?”

The queen said, “Because you’re more likely to treat her as an equal, and be good enough for our favorite.  Tojet should never be treated as second best.  We sent scouts throughout the twentieth century and beyond to find a husband for her.  Your parents loved fairies, so we soon focused on you and decided to see what kind of man you’d be when you grew up.  We looked, and had the local fairies check on you.  We liked what we saw, and thought you’d make an excellent match for Tojet.  You’re kind, you’re passionate, and you treat women properly; you two also have similar interests.”

“Similar interests?  But she’s only nine.  I like classic novels and she likes Winnie the Pooh books, for example.”

“We know how she’ll turn out, what she’ll be interested in as she grows up.”

“But I have a wife.”

“We also know your future.”

The last traces of fog dissipated.  Unease jabbed his stomach.  What was in his future?  Why did she say this when he mentioned his wife?

Merkit turned and saw Tojet, who was curled up on the side of the ring, asleep.  He felt more like a father who must get his sleeping child to bed than a predestined husband of a fairy child.

“What did you do to me?  Why did I forget everything about myself?  Who will you do this to next?”

The fairy queen only smiled.  “I’ll turn to the king of the goblins.  Of all the local kings, he is the handsomest.  After the dance, I will go to meet him; he needs no spells.  Your heart is so loyal that trying to charm you has given me a headache.  Now go, take your betrothed maiden home.”

Merkit picked Tojet up, but she disappeared, along with everything else.  He jerked his head back and forward again.  There she sat at the kitchen table in front of him.  She finished her tale.  He must have imagined the scene with the fairy ring, but it had seemed so real.  Even his lustful fantasy seemed real, and now it shamed him.

What business did he, a married man and a Christian, have fantasizing about a fairy queen?  He had to find something else to do to chase the fantasy from his mind.  Why would he even want to fantasize about a fairy queen?  Barb was everything he’d ever wanted in a wife; they had many of the same thoughts and liked many of the same things.  When they met in a Christian group at college as sophomores, they fell for each other right away.  After a few months of obsessing, Merkit worked up the courage to ask her out, only to find that she had also been obsessing.  The Christian group was new, and Merkit and Barb worked together to help make it more visible on campus.  They worked side by side for the group to make and put up posters around the campus, plan parties and trips to see Christian rock bands, and lead (Barb) or go to (Merkit) small groups.  They fought hard against many temptations to sleep together, their biggest struggle of all.  Their friends called them the perfect couple.

When they got engaged in their senior year, no one was surprised.  He had no reason to want a stranger, even a fairy queen, instead.

“A nice little tale, Tojet,” he said, “but we can’t spend all our time dancing with fairies.  I have to go grade some papers now.”  He jumped up and trotted off to find his briefcase.  He later hurried off to the church for Saturday morning confessions, to purge himself of the fairy queen fantasy.

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My books are available for purchase here and here and here.  E-book downloads are only $0.99.  You can see text previews at the Payhip link.  Descriptions:

Tojet:

A fairy tale for adults.  A mysterious girl named Tojet appears in a convent-run school one day.  Two teachers, Sister Elizabeth and oddly-named Merkit Terjit, take her under their care.

But is she a lost, imaginative orphan or a time traveler with fairy powers?  How does she know who Merkit is and how he was named?

Tragedy drives her away, but she returns as a young, beautiful woman, far more mature than she should be.  She shows Merkit a world of obsession and dark fairies.

He can’t help falling in love with her, but what about the monastic vows he’s about to take?  Can he fight the temptations that surround him?

—Preview available here.  So far, this book has been given the highest rating by four readers.  Also see professional reviews here and here[Update: Last link was to Wayback Machine, but doesn’t work anymore for some reason.]

 

The Lighthouse:

Enter the world of the Lighthouse, a club for supernatural beings and social misfits.  In this Gothic story collection you will find castles, ghosts, vampires, romance and terror:

 

Bedlam Castle–An American college girl loses herself in the hallways of a 900-year-old castle.  Eccentric characters invite her to dinner.  One is a genie, one is an undine, and most of the others are ghosts.  One man intrigues her the most–but is he a mortal man or a supernatural creature like the rest?

 

Jarkin–Becky Stevens falls in love against her will with Archibald Jarkin, an eccentric, austere and charismatic preacher.  Their passionate marriage is tested when Jarkin’s TV ministry turns into a witch hunt.  When Becky discovers the Lighthouse, their life together takes a startling new path.

 

Alexander Boa: Or, I was a co-ed vampire slave–When a young woman’s college is taken over by a vampire, she becomes his secret mistress.  Will she be torn apart when her friends decide to kill him?

 

Candida–A young man is stricken with a girl who falls under a vampire’s spell.  Soon married and pregnant with the vampire’s baby, she has no idea what danger she’ll be in if the baby is a boy.

 

The frame story–This story combines characters and settings from the other four stories.  Jenny, a social misfit, is introduced to the Lighthouse, supernatural creatures, and a deceptive man.  When he leaves her and then accuses her of stalking him, she can only vindicate herself by facing the horrors of a haunted cave.  Will she survive?  Will she fall in love again?

–Preview available here.

Left Behind Review: Remnant, Part 2

Part 1

On pages 310 to 312, we find, once again, a rip on churches that are not the kind the authors like.  We read the testimony of Lionel Whalum, a black believer who wasn’t into church as a kid like his “emotional and showy” mama and aunties; when he got married, he and his wife only occasionally went to church, a

higher sort, if you know what I mean. Very proper, subdued, not demonstrative.  If my people had visited that church, they would have said it was dead and that Jesus wouldn’t even go there.  I would have said it was sophisticated and proper.

Gag!  This reminds me of the “Jesus Camp” documentary, with the little brainwashed girl saying that God doesn’t like churches where people just sit there and don’t do/say anything.

And of course, Lionel’s church “fit our lifestyle” (which, oddly enough, is how people often describe those “relevant” churches these days, where people–in the suburbs–dress in shorts).  Lionel and his wife could dress the same way they did for work or socializing!  (I’m not sure why this is considered so wonderful or convenient, since most churches are the same.)

We saw people we knew and cared about.  And we definitely were never hollered at or insulted from the pulpit.  Nobody called us sinners or hinted that we might need to get something right in our lives.

I’m not sure what churches actually avoid any kind of preaching about sin.  I’ve been in many different kinds of churches–Nazarene, Pentecostal, Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian (USA), Orthodox, UCC, Anglican–and I don’t recall there ever being a hint that we’re all fine just the way we are and nobody needs to learn how to treat others in love.

But here, and in the following passages in which Lionel’s kids end up in the kind of church he grew up in, then start begging and pleading with him to get saved (since, apparently, he’s not saved because he goes to the “wrong” church), we get a very strong message that the “right” church is a Pentecostal church, “emotional and showy,” with pastors “hollering” at you from the pulpit.  Every other kind will send you to Hell…..

Um, really?

Oh, yes, and then there’s the Bible study, with the leader laying out how to become a born-again Christian and trying to get Lionel and his wife “saved,” even though they’re already churchgoers.  Because, you see, they’re not in the “right” church, and they don’t have the “right” teachings about how to be saved.

On pages 314-16, we have such examples of stilted language as someone in the crowd calling to Chaim, “If the leader will not beseech us to stay, why should we stay?”  Who talks like that anymore?

And, yet again, as with the manna and various other things, we find the Old Testament Exodus being brought into the End Times without any biblical justification, as the ground opens up and swallows people who argued with Chaim and Tsion.  But this is no longer part of the order of things since Christ came!

Then a false prophet begins performing wondrous miracles for the people who come to his show near Petra.  He makes the weather hot or cold by moving clouds in front of the sun, makes the mike stand into a snake, causes a spring to gush out, imitates the feeding of the 5000, even strikes people dead and raises them again.

Tsion says, “That man was not even human.  Surely he was a demonic apparition.”

But can a demon have this kind of power?  From what I see in this article by Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, I see nothing about demons being able to do things like this.  They can delude and influence, yes, but move clouds and imitate the feeding of the 5000?  This is giving demons too much power, when we should be learning to not be afraid of demons!

On page 343, we read about a believer, Luis, who, at the time of the Rapture,

had had enough exposure to campus ministry groups that when he returned to Argentina and suffered through the disappearances, he knew exactly what had happened.

He and some friends from childhood raced to their little Catholic church, where hardly anyone was left.  Their favorite priest and catechism teacher were gone too.

But from literature they found in the library, they learned how to trust Christ personally.  Soon they were the nucleus of the new body of believers in that area.

Yet another slam on the Catholics!  You’ll note that even though Luis was Catholic, and had been through catechism training, he did not know about the “truth” of the Rapture except through campus ministry groups (presumably Protestant) he was exposed to in high school and college in the US.

Because, after all, the Catholic church does not teach the “truth” of the Rapture because it’s just wrong.

And you’ll also note that most of the people in that church back home had been Raptured–but probably because of the “literature” in the library about “how to trust Christ personally.”

So sure most of the Catholics in this church were Raptured, but only because they found this literature in their library, not because of Catholicism.  Luis went to the same church, even went through catechism training, but apparently nobody told him “how to trust Christ personally,” so he was not Raptured.

On page 351 is some humor, funny but not in the way it was intended. Mac sees a man by the river, which is full of blood as is all water at this point.  Abdullah, who is not a native English speaker, says, “I don’t see him, Mac.  Maybe this is one of your cowboy marriages.”

He meant “mirages,” but I couldn’t help thinking of Brokeback Mountain: You could call that a kind of “cowboy marriage.”

Turns out the man is an angel; when Mac comes back, Abdullah says, “So what was it, pod’ner? A marriage?”  Considering the angel is a guy–It is Brokeback Mountain!

On page 371, Buck says to Chloe, “How bad is it with Leah and Hannah?  I don’t know either of them that well, but Leah would get on anybody’s nerves.  She still pining for Tsion?”

I’m not sure why they keep picking on Leah about Tsion.  I’ve seen nothing at all demonstrated to explain why they do.

All I’ve seen are some snarky remarks about her “stalking” Tsion or wanting to go to Petra to be with him, but no indication that she’s actually doing anything that would qualify as “stalking,” not even in the modern broad usage of the term (which seems to include everything anybody does who cares even an iota about some other person in any way other than behaving like an unfeeling robot).

Not even anything about how much she likes him–no mention of pictures on her wall, or obsessive chatter, or anything at all to suggest she likes him any more than anybody else does.  Just a few snarky comments.

And what was wrong with her wanting to go to Petra?  It just makes no sense at all, and for the reader to take these snarks seriously, we need a lot more to go on than this. Otherwise, it just looks like people picking on her for no reason, accusing her unjustly.

And as for her getting on people’s nerves–Sure, now that Hattie is gone, let’s pick on Leah!

I’m not even sure how she gets on people’s nerves.  It seems to me more like, she only gets on their nerves because they’re hypersensitive, and that it’s usually Rayford the chauvinist who has trouble with her.

On page 393, more people and animals, and even plants and fish, die because of heat so intense that it burns people to death.  There’s just so much carnage in these books that it’s hard to stand, and not only do “sinners” die, but so does everything else.

On page 400, we read that the temperature has gone back to normal–no more blazing hot sun burning people and things to ashes–but now there is a plague of darkness.  The sun, moon, stars, electric lights, flashlights, emergency signs–everything that emits some sort of light, is now dark.  At all hours of the day or night, it is impossible to see anything.

People screamed in terror, finding this the worst nightmare of their lives–and they had many to choose from.  They were blind–completely, utterly, totally, wholly unable to see anything but blackness twenty-four hours a day.

We read how desperately people begin trying to find or make light of any kind:

Find a candle!  Rub two sticks together!  Shuffle on the carpet and create static electricity.  Do anything.  Anything!  Something to allow some vestige of a shadow, a hint, a sliver.  All to no avail.

As if this weren’t bad enough, “Chang wanted to laugh.”

Wait–What?

He wanted to howl from his gut.  He wished he could tell everyone everywhere that once again God had meted out a curse, a judgment upon the earth that affected only those who bore the mark of the beast.

Chang could see.  It was different.  He didn’t see lights either.  He simply saw everything in sepia tone, as if someone had turned down the wattage on a chandelier.

Why, thank you for your Christian compassion on the suffering, Chang.

Because the annoyance does turn into physical suffering.  As we read on, we find that the extended darkness does not keep people from getting food and drink, but they can’t work, or talk about anything but the darkness.  And then they begin feeling pain: itches, aches, until:

For many the pain grew so intense that all they could do was bend down and feel the ground to make sure there was no hole or stairwell to fall into and then collapse in a heap, writhing, scratching, seeking relief.

The longer it went, the worse it got, and now people swore and cursed God and chewed their tongues.  They crawled about the corridors, looking for weapons, pleading with friends or even strangers to kill them.  Many killed themselves.

The entire complex became an asylum of screams and moans and guttural wails, as these people became convinced that this, finally, was it–the end of the world.

But no such luck.  Unless they had the wherewithal, the guts, to do themselves in, they merely suffered.  Worse by the hour.  Increasingly bad by the day.

This went on and on and on.  And in the middle of it, Chang came up with the most brilliant idea of his life.  If ever there was a perfect time for him to escape, it was now.

Again–Wait–What?

Chang is surrounded by all these suffering people, and instead of having an ounce of compassion, or wanting to help them in their suffering, he thinks only of his own skin?

Like a sociopath he laughs at their pain, and just thinks how the believers being able to see, while everyone else is blind, means he and his friends can get him out of there without obstruction?

He cares nothing for the people who are so miserable they’re committing suicide?  He can’t even try to comfort them or tell them that Christ can take them out of their misery?

On page 403, we read Chang’s thoughts about what a wonderful break this is for the believers:

Now, for as long as God tarried, for as long as he saw fit to keep the shades pulled down and the lights off, everything was in the believers’ favor.  “God,” Chang said, “just give me a couple more days of this.”

Is this the Christianity we’re supposed to emulate?  Is this the Christianity that would inspire unbelievers to believe?  “God, please keep everybody around me so miserable they’re chewing their tongues and trying to kill themselves, so I can save my own skin”?

Is this the ultimate result of Calvinism: Christians good, unbelievers so worthless they deserve everything they get?

[2/13/12-3/12/12]

Left Behind Review: Remnant, Part 1

Remnant by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 1414334990, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

A plot summary is here.

This book picks up the pace, and even gets exciting for a while, as (during the Greece adventures described on Wikipedia) part of the Tribulation Force tries to rescue George Sebastian.  Ming Toy also finds a Boy Toy–er, boyfriend–while trying to get to China.  Steve Plank dies heroically, proclaiming to all that he is a believer, surprising and dismaying his co-workers, before deciding to go to the guillotine. And there are moments of humor between Albie, Mac and Abdullah, who apparently are the comic relief.

If only all the books had been like this, instead of waiting until Book TEN.

But the usual issues still come up quite a bit, such as the unrealistic language. Why would Chloe, herself only in her 20s, use “son” when addressing a man of her own age?  While the author did note the oddness of this, he did not give a reason for it.

On pages 121-124, I find it amazing that Tsion is so afraid of being considered a “wayward” brother, so afraid of giving the wrong message, knowing that it will “jar the sensibilities of many hearers,” that he asks Rayford for advice on whether or not his next planned sermon is correct–because he is going to speak on God’s mercy!

He has no trouble speaking of God’s wrath and judgment, but must ask for counsel and support from his Christian brothers before speaking of God’s mercy?  Or maybe it’s not so amazing, in the Calvinistic world of Left Behind.

On page 155, Mac has just used a 50-caliber rifle to shoot a car outside a cabin being used by GC Peacekeepers, the group which had been holding George.  He hit the gas tank, making it blow up.  This would cover him while he made a break for a hidden Jeep.

But did he have to wish “only that he could have heard what had to be the frightened cries of the young Peacekeepers on the dead run”?  This is not some video game, but people with eternal souls he’s dealing with here.  Having to frighten, shoot or otherwise deal with them should be inspiring sad necessity, not jubilation in their cries.

On page 203, as a Christian refuses to take the mark and begins singing while waiting for the guillotine, a guard tries to jab and stab her with a bayonet to get her to stop, but she keeps going.  Carpathia rages,

Tell the guards to stop making a spectacle of it!  They are playing right into these people’s hands.  Let the crowd see that no matter what they do or say or sing, still their heads belong to us!

Yeah, Judah-ites, remember that all your base are belong to us!

On page 228, Tsion is preaching again, to the believers assembled at Petra (their story is explained in the Wikipedia article).  He says that in John 14, Jesus “makes a promise we can take to the bank of eternity.”  Oh geez, not Evangelical sermon witticisms for hipster preaching.  😛

Then the authors make a little jab at the idea that the Bible has historical and scientific errors, as Tsion says,

From Eden until this present moment, God has given us in the Bible an accurate history of the world, much of it written in advance.  It is the only truly accurate history ever written.

The only?  What a rip on the many historians throughout history who have tried to gather all the facts together!–especially since scientists and historians often find things which, if the Bible is taken strictly literally, don’t match up.

Then he says,

Next comes the worldwide flood.  This flood had a catastrophic effect on the world and still boggles the minds of scientists who find fish bones at altitudes as high as fifteen thousand feet.

The trouble with insisting that everything in the Bible be taken literally–and some churches actually make Creationism a necessary tenet for members to believe–is that your faith could shatter if scientists are able to prove without a shadow of a doubt that evolution happened and the Earth is not so young.  Even the ancient Catholic church does not require a belief in Creationism!

I’m not going to bother going to Creationist or religious sites to back up Tsion’s claims about the fish bones.  I did find an interesting forum thread here.  It’s a debate on whether there’s evidence of extensive flooding at the end of the last Ice Age, while all those glaciers were melting, possibly causing many extinctions.

It’s one theory, though you’ll note that it’s not proven or necessarily accepted, which contradicts the claims of Tsion.

Unless Noah’s Ark is actually found, there is no evidence of the story being literally true, of one big flood covering the earth all at the same time.

But flooding is a common, natural phenomenon which is experienced all over the world, and melting glaciers could certainly cause a lot of it as the worldwide climate warmed.  Just imagine how much spring flooding is caused after a winter of heavy snowfall.

The thread also cites a BBC article about an Indian city that’s 9500 years old!  That’s only 1500 years more recent than the end of the last Ice Age, and the extensive glacial flooding may have extended over 7000 years.

If human civilization is truly far older than the Creationists claim, then racial memories of extensive flooding at the end of the Ice Age could easily have inspired the story of Noah’s Ark (and various other flood stories around the world.)  But a worldwide flood that happened all at once and killed all land-life except for those on one boat, has not been proven.

Flooding typically causes loss of life.  It’s easy for all that flooding–though naturally caused–to be seen by the Ice Age peoples as worldwide and divine retribution.  So there is no need to expect every detail of the biblical account to be completely accurate for it to be True.

Tsion’s cited evidence may indeed exist, but does not prove an all-at-once worldwide flood.  My faith can withstand the lack of evidence of such a flood, so I have no need to try to hammer all sorts of evidence–whether real or discredited–until it fits exactly the literal biblical account, in fear that if the account is not completely accurate, Christianity will be disproven and when I die I’ll go to nothingness.

On page 229, Tsion goes on to say that after Christ returns, stops the Tribulation/Armageddon, and imposes 1000 years of peace on Earth, “the population will grow to greater than the number of all the people who have already lived and died up to now” because of no war.

I suppose that also includes no disease or accidents, though he didn’t mention that.  But then he says “We will have plenty.”  How can that be if the earth is overpopulated?  Is he expecting a constant stream of people going to visit Christ every day and get him to do that loaves and fishes thing over and over again?

On pages 230-233, Tsion attempts to reconcile the wrath of the Tribulation God with a loving God.  But we’re dealing with a Calvinistic version of God which uses punishment to get people to turn to him.  Would you want to love a person who was killing thousands of people and animals and causing all sorts of devastation?

It makes far more sense to look at things in a more Orthodox fashion: Revelations was disputed before it was put into the canon, and is not read during Liturgies. God’s wrath is an anthropomorphic expression, used so people without extensive intellectual understanding of theology could understand.  God is not ruled by human passions.  “Wrath” is the consequences of our sins.  Revelations is what happens when Satan is allowed to rule over the earth for a time.  And the various bowl judgments are metaphorical.

But no, this isn’t how Tsion tries to explain that the vengeful god killing off all these people, is somehow loving.  I say “tries” because it falls short.  There’s more about God’s wrath on page 290, in which an angel says, “God is jealous, and the Lord will have his revenge.  He will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserves his wrath for his enemies.”  But Alexandre Kalomiros writes in “The River of Fire”:

God is good, loving, and kind toward those who disregard, disobey, and ignore Him.  He never returns evil for evil, He never takes vengeance.

His punishments are loving means of correction, as long as anything can be corrected and healed in this life.  They never extend to eternity.

He created everything good.  The wild beasts recognize as their master the Christian who through humility has gained the likeness of God. They draw near to him, not with fear, but with joy, in grateful and loving submission; they wag their heads and lick his hands and serve him with gratitude.

The irrational beasts know that their Master and God is not evil and wicked and vengeful, but rather full of love. (See also St. Isaac of Syria, SWZOMENA ASKHTIKA [Athens, 1871], pp. 95-96.) He protected and saved us when we fell.

The eternally evil has nothing to do with God. It comes rather from the will of His free, logical creatures, and this will He respects.

A fuller explanation of the Calvinistic god of wrath vs. the Orthodox God of love is here.)

On page 277, we read that the believers camping out at Petra, who basically have their own Moses (Chaim) and are being treated like modern versions of the Israelites in the wilderness, are also eating manna.

I don’t know where all this modern-Exodus stuff is coming from, because I sure never heard of it in the End-of-the-World prophecies.

We read that manna doesn’t need to be preserved during the day, but spoils overnight. But the next day, there’s more, “so saving it was considered a lack of faith, and forbidden.”  Forbidden?  Forbidden just because of a lack of faith?  And what is the punishment for anyone who does save it?

On page 290, I can’t help but cringe as angels try to convert a group of Muslims.  This group refused to take the Mark, and they are fervent believers in God, but because their beliefs aren’t the “correct” ones, the angels are trying to convert them so they won’t just automatically go to Hell now that the GC has found them and will be sending them to the guillotines.

One, Christopher, says to the Muslims on page 289, “We come not to discuss religion, but to preach Christ and him crucified, dead, buried, and resurrected after three days, now sitting at the right hand of God the Father.”  Um, that is discussing religion!

On page 294, Christopher says, “Resist the temptation to choose the guillotine without choosing Christ the Messiah.  You will die in vain.”

Some had been converted, but one shouts, “We will die for Allah!” and the others raise “fists of defiance.”

So–Even though they refuse to take the Mark and are doing it for the sake of God, as they have always understood Him, they’ll still be condemned as if they had taken the Mark and allied with Satan?  This makes no sense, and is unjust!

To be continued…..

 

Musings on Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl–Part 4

Previous parts

Chapter 36: Mrs. Hobbs, who is taking care of Linda’s daughter Ellen, has a southern brother, Mr. Thorne, who knows Linda’s grandmother.  He comes to visit, but Ellen soon finds herself running back and forth to get rum and brandy for him and Mr. Hobbs–and Mr. Thorne “poured vile language” into her ears.  One day, he tears up and scatters a letter in the yard, which Ellen soon pieces together due to suspicions.

Her suspicions are right: The letter is to Dr. Flint, telling him where Linda is and how easily he can get her.  The children take the letter to Mrs. Hobbs, who goes to confront her brother, but he has already left with another letter.  The next morning, he flees for New York before anyone else is up.

Linda hurries home, where she tells her employer, Mrs. Bruce, that she’s a fugitive slave in danger of being caught.  Mrs. Hobbs lets her take Ellen, at least for 10 days, and Mrs. Bruce and others help her get out of the city and onto a steamboat.  Ellen is raggedy and has had no schooling, which upsets Linda.

On the boat she finds more prejudice, as colored passengers are supposed to sleep on deck, but with a child and under the circumstances, she asks to be allowed to sleep in the cabin.  The stewardess says no because too many rich people travel on this route.

However, Linda is able to convince the captain to let her sleep below deck, and when they get to shore, he also convinces the conductor of the train to allow her to ride in the first car behind the engine.

In Boston, she and a friend set up house together, she gets Mrs. Hobbs to let Ellen stay with her, she has both her children with her now, and she gets Ellen into school.  Finally, things are looking up.

Chapter 37: As a mother, especially after my own difficult labor, the thought of a woman dying in childbirth saddens me.  She’s waited all this time for the happy event, only to find the end of her life.  What was born in love, ends in death, with her stuck in a distressing labor she can’t escape from.

These thoughts return as I read that Linda’s employer, Mrs. Bruce, died in childbirth (the baby also dead) in the following spring.

Mr. Bruce takes their other daughter, Mary, to England to visit relatives, with Linda as her nurse, while Linda leaves her children in safe hands back in the States.  Benny is apprenticed to a printer, while Ellen goes to school.

And in England, “For the first time in my life I was in a place where I was treated according to my deportment, without reference to my complexion.”

She notes the living conditions of dirt-poor and oppressed English peasants, and realizes they still live better than American slaves:

They fear no lash, no one will take their children away or make them toil from starlight to starlight in heat and cold, there are societies and schools set up to help them.  No patrols will flog them in the middle of the night; no one will give them 39 lashes for teaching each other how to read and write.

An English visitor to America had painted a glowing picture of slavery in the US, but Linda says she should become a poor governess on a Louisiana or Alabama plantation, rather than visiting among the fashionable.

The behavior of oppressive white Christians in her hometown had turned her against the Episcopal Church, but here in England, she is inspired by true Christians.

She stays there 10 months without experiencing prejudice against color.  She writes, “Indeed, I entirely forgot it, till the time came for us to return to America.”

Chapter 38: Linda goes back to Boston, and finds Ellen well and doing well at school.  Benny has done very well at his apprenticeship and has been well liked–until they discovered he was black.  (Apparently he is very light-skinned.)

“They began by treating him with silent scorn, and finding that he returned the same, they resorted to insults and abuse.  He was too spirited a boy to stand that, and he went off.”

Good for him: Nobody should have to take insults and abuse, and I would’ve done the same.  So off he goes on a whaling voyage, and is gone for a few years.

Her young mistress is now married, and writes Linda a letter.  She says she heard Linda was in England “with a family,” and waited for her return.

I was suddenly struck with the thought that Linda would be like an illegal immigrant: She’s been smuggled out of the slave states into the free, without anyone giving her papers proving that she is legally free.

This was before the Fugitive Slave Law was passed, and many trusted in the personal liberty laws of Massachusetts and other Northern states, but the law of the land still would consider Linda the property of the Flints.  I wonder if her employers would be subject to prosecution….

Her mistress writes that she wants Linda with her, or she can buy herself.  What she says sounds very kind to me, but Linda feels insulted, that her mistress thinks her stupid enough to fall for it.  She does not respond.  This letter shows her that the Flint family is aware of her movements somehow.

Linda wants her money to go to her children’s education and a home, not to buying herself, which she finds both hard and unjust.

I could not possibly regard myself as a piece of property….I knew the law would decide that I was [Dr. Flint’s] property, and would probably still give his daughter a claim to my children; but I regarded such laws as the regulations of robbers, who had no rights that I was bound to respect.

Chapter 39: Linda decides to send Ellen off to boarding school, but first tell her about her father.  Turns out Ellen already knows, and that she spent five months with him and he never showed affection to her like he did to his legitimate daughter.

It concerns me that Linda beats herself up so much over what she did with the father, her “great sin” which she is afraid to tell anyone, since neither of them were married at the time and her life as a slave made any sort of “proper” morality harder to follow.

After all, she wasn’t allowed to legally marry anyone she chose, slave marriages could be dissolved at the whim of the owner, and young girls were often dallied with by their owners before they had a chance to get properly married.

Chapter 40: The Fugitive Slave Law is passed, setting Linda and all other fugitive slaves on edge.  Then she’s alerted that somehow, Dr. Flint knows that she’s gone back to her old place, and is arranging to have her caught.

Mrs. Bruce died in childbirth, but Mr. Bruce has since remarried and had more children; the new Mrs. Bruce hates slavery, and since a replacement nurse could not be immediately found, she actually suggests that Linda take the baby with her.

Linda stays with the baby in the house of a senator, then in the country, until the coast is clear and she can return to her employer.

A wealthy and pro-slavery relative of Mrs. Bruce tells her she is violating the law and is she aware of the penalty?  She replies,

I am very well aware of it.  It is imprisonment and one thousand dollars fine.  Shame on my country that it is so!  I am ready to incur the penalty.  I will go to the state’s prison, rather than have any poor victim torn from my house, to be carried back to slavery.

Chapter 41: In 1850, Linda’s grandmother writes that Dr. Flint has died, leaving a “distressed family.”  She also writes, “Poor old man!  I hope he made his peace with God.”

Linda recalls that his crimes against her grandmother were worse than his crimes against her, and that she must be a better Christian than Linda if she can entirely forgive him.  Linda, on the other hand, still finds his memory odious even after he has died.

There are many things we are asked to forgive; forgiveness of abuse can be especially difficult, and can’t be asked lightly.  Mrs. Flint had buried several children, yet Linda saw no softening in her heart.  Instead, a letter from the South warns Linda that Mrs. Flint has declared Linda too valuable a slave for her daughter to lose.

Sure enough, Linda’s owner and her husband, Mr. & Mrs. (Emily) Dodge, soon arrive in town, and come to look for her.  But Mrs. Bruce has already veiled her and sent her off to a friend’s house….

It seems that Mr. Dodge, a Yankee, brought quite a lot of drama into the Flints’ lives, with violent fights between him and Emily’s brother, and she never actually got consent before marrying him.  Dr. Flint never forgave her.  Now they’re left without money or inheritance, so no wonder Mr. Dodge wants to find Emily’s valuable slave.

Linda is tired of running, refuses to pay for her freedom because she shouldn’t have to pay anyone for it, and is bitter that she can’t even go to church without risk.  She writes, “God forgive the black and bitter thoughts I indulged on that Sabbath day!  The Scripture says, ‘Oppression makes even a wise man mad;’ and I was not wise.”

But she flees yet again, going to New England.  Mrs. Bruce buys her freedom, even though Linda felt it was too much like slavery and would put her under obligation to Mrs. Bruce.  She is appalled that even in “the free city of New York” in the “19th century of the Christian religion,” women could be sold.

Yet she is grateful to Mrs. Bruce, and feels a heavy load lifted at last.  Back home she goes, without worry about who might see her.

In 1835, at the age of about 22, she fled her owners.  In 1852, at the age of 39, after nearly 20 years of being a fugitive, she is free.  Her story will be published 9 years later in 1861.

[2010 or 2011]

See entire review here.