As I write and edit this post, it appears that GoDaddy serviced web sites are down, and a member of Anonymous is claiming credit for causing the problem. There were a couple of posts I couldn’t access, and I believe that was due to this problem.
This is my first time hosting the Christian Carnival since it went monthly, and I’m impressed with the quality of submissions. I give you all a “great notes” award for actually telling something about your posts in the notes! That was great. I just had to confirm that your post is about what you said it was and that it was within the date range, and off we went.
And speaking of dates, Posts should have been just from August, but I let a couple of out of date posts go through because they were so good, and besides, people are still getting used to this monthly thing, right? So it’s a one time indulgence, and you don’t even have to pay John Tetzel, nor must anyone post 95 theses to make me stop. Speaking of which, what’s with 95 theses? Loquacious fellow, this Luther, methinks!
Unlike me, who never strays from the topic.
In any case, I will throw around the odd award [noted in brackets] and then I’ll add a few posts from around the blogosphere. While I do feel that we might recategorize these posts (and my spell checker doesn’t like “recategorize”), I’m going to (mostly) leave yours where you put them, even if I create new categories.
So on with the posts!
(Putting an incomplete sentence, or better fragment, on a line by itself, as in “at all” is a literary device, not an error.)
Danny Kofke offered How Much Money Should The Tooth Fairy Pay? at One Money Design Notes: How much do you think the tooth fairy should pay and how can you explain the difference in the amounts she leaves different households. This is never an easy conversation with your kids! [Papa's critical information award!]
Luther Wesley offered Friendship with the World is a Siren Song at LivingNGrace Notes: I want to follow…it looks so easy and my legs are so weary. My heart is heavy and my soul burdened with the trials and cares of this world. My failings, both past and present, play like a never-ending High Def screen show with the rumble of surround sound filling my ears. These sins…..these chains that so easily beset me are cumbersome…dragging me down to the depths of despair. The song, the allure of the Broad Path, and Friendship with the World bids me come…..and my knees buckle under the weight…..
Rob Kuban offered Should Churches Borrow Money? at One Money Design Notes: Churches shouldn’t over extend so much that they have trouble paying operating costs and carrying out God’s ministry. Churches, like you and I, need to make sure they are good stewards of God’s resources.
Tom Gilson offered The Professor Who Thought He Knew Bigotry When He Saw It at Thinking Christian Notes: A University of Central Florida prof sent an email to 500 students claiming it is bigotry for Christians to proclaim ours is the “most valid” religion. The email has gone viral, and yet it still appears the prof doesn’t recognize his own self-contradictions. [Finding the nutty professor award!]
Dan Chesney offered God Think Man Think at getlifegroup.com Notes: God thinks very differently than we do, and the more we understand this the more successful we are at living a vital Christian life. [Christianity is not for the fainthearted? This gets the "a bunch of people will be disappointed and they should be" award!]
Maurice Kande offered Make a start with little things at The Dreamcatcher Notes: This post aims at teaching people to value the little things in life. Understanding that everything started small becomes a defining moment for those who have hard time starting to live their Divine Purpose.
Josh Wiley submitted 22 Quotes About The Cross by Daryl Evans at What Christians Want To Know Notes: This article was sobering to write as I again wrestle with the amazing gift of Jesus being the sacrifice for me willingly on a cross over 2000 years ago. I hope these quotes move you to thank God today for Jesus.
Gbenga Owotoki offered Celebrate Your Marriage Union at Gbenga Owotoki – Impart for Impact Notes: Marriage is honorable. You should be thankful you are married and had remained so. Many had gone that way and never enjoyed the ride. For some, it resulted in their demise. But eh! You made it. You may argue, you may sometimes find the marriage voyage turbulent but in all of your challenges, you are still together. You should celebrate this. Your once-in-a-year wedding anniversary is not enough. Find reason to spend more time together in a celebratory mode. When you do this often, it helps to keep the bond of love intact.
Krista Manchuck offered Unleash the Beast at Run For Your Life Notes: Being a Christian is about more than going to church a couple of times a week and reading your Bible. It is about living out Biblical principles in every area of our lives. As a Christian and as a runner, the Lord has taught me a lot about Him through the discipline of running. This post talks about how who God has made us on the inside effects who we are on the outside.
Josh Wiley submitted Apostle Paul Biography and Timeline by David Peach at What Christians Want To Know Notes: We are first introduced to Paul when he was Saul of Tarsus. He was standing over the first Christian martyr Stephen looking on as Stephen was stoned to death. From this gruesome introduction to the completion of his missionary journeys Paul has become a champion and hero in the Christian faith.
Shannon Christman submitted The Simple Gospel by Ridge Burns at Ridge’s Blog Notes: ” . . . we need to go back to determine what the essence of our faith is. What is it that we need to believe?”
Benjamin Williams offered Yes, Really, The Armor of God at The Form of a Servant Notes: If you’re anything like me, when you read Paul’s command to put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11) you immediately want to know what it is that constitutes the armor of God and how it is that we might put it on. Anything to stand up to the schemes of the devil would be welcome; it’s no surprise to anyone who has been a Christian for any length of time that there is a constant battle against the spiritual forces of evil.
I submitted my wife Jody Neufeld’s post Heart Check from Jody’s Devotionals.
Notes: How do we really think about others? How do we respond to those who are different? Can they tell that we are welcoming?
Stephanie offered 3 Ways To Parent the Way God Has Called Us To Parent at The Christian Housewife Notes: “How many times have we, as mothers, been subjected to a thoughtless comment or even a look from another person that leaves us feeling like we are complete failures at parenting? Unfortunately, all too often, people are too quick to throw out their opinions and thoughts on how we are choosing to parent and this can often leave us questioning our abilities in the role God has put us in.
So, how can we remain confident in the choices we’re making as moms while still remaining teachable when the time comes? It’s a delicate balance, that’s for sure, but one that is very important to maintain. We certainly want to learn from others, but we need to guard our hearts to make sure that only the truth is penetrating our views on child rearing. The enemy’s lies can quickly ruin the good work we’re doing. Sometimes one person’s “helpful advice” can be misconstrued as an attack on us. Pretty soon thoughts of inadequacy and failure settle into our minds and our hearts and those feelings can wreak havoc on our self-worth.
So, here are 3 ways that I believe we can be sure we’re parenting the way God has called us to parent.”…..
Carl Ayers offered Jesus’ Pronouncements on Divorce and Remarriage, 2 of 2 at Theological Pursuit Notes: This post is a continuation of an ongoing series on how the bible views divorce and remarriage. This is the second post of 2 specifically on what Jesus (or better, the gospel accounts of Jesus) have to say about the matter. Wasn’t Jesus very strict? We find that Jesus was both more and less strict than we often see it. [This gets an award for complexity. But it's an important and complex topic!]
Dan Navin offered Love at Pursued By God Extract: The love I focused on in the former paragraph was one that was often closely tied to my same sex attractions. This love lied, manipulated and deceived the object of my affection into lowering his defenses. It was a love that sought comfort through sex as repayment for my good deeds and loving actions. It was a love that always saw the end game as being conquest through sex. And when the goal was attained, the “love” often revealed itself to be little more than lust or excitement which came from pursuing the challenge.
I’m offering my own post Silly Who from The Jevlir Caravansary.
Notes: I wrote this story for the one-word-at-a-time blog carnival. You can find links to the carnival in the post. The word for the carnival was “silly.” I like to look for various ways to use it and to do it in a short story.
If any hosts are interested, I created a spreadsheet for OpenOffice Calc. You can download the submissions and it will create the basic links and formatting. Doubtless it could be improved a good deal if someone wants to take the time.
If I missed something, comment, and if it fits the criteria, I’ll promote it into the post and you get your link.
Karl was pleased that his daughter Ellen spent so much time out in the woods. That way he wouldn’t have to be embarrassed by the silly things she did. He knew he should watch her more carefully, but he had never been able to bring himself to actually do it. If he tried to control her, things just got crazy.
Ellen couldn’t speak and many thought she couldn’t hear either. She just made incomprehensible sounds. The reason some people thought she really could hear was that she had an uncanny ability to notice what was going on around her. Those who depended on the fact that she couldn’t hear and tried to play tricks on her generally were unpleasantly surprised. Her practical jokes were usually embarrassing and sometimes painful, but never fatal.
Still, she behaved so strangely when she was in town. She’d spend time down at the shrine just looking at the inscriptions on the walls. She’d sit for hours just watching people on the street. She was nosy. She showed up at places she didn’t belong. She never did any chores. In fact, Karl thought, she was completely useless as a person and he quite frankly admitted to himself and to his neighbors that he resented the cost of feeding her. But he was much too responsible, and though he’d deny it, gentle of a man to actually do her real harm, and so he just let her run wild.
But he was delighted that she mostly ran wild far out in the woods. There were plenty of dangers out there, but at least he could pretend they weren’t his problem.
This arrangement worked well until one day Ellen came into town and went straight to the village headman. She got his attention and then began drawing in the dirt with a stick. Her father, who had followed her to try to keep her out of trouble—well, let’s be honest, to keep himself out of trouble by keeping her from bothering people—thought that what she was drawing looked hauntingly familiar, but he wasn’t sure why. The village headman had no idea, however, and he roughly pushed Ellen to the ground, told Karl to “control his daughter” and stalked off.
Karl tried to grab Ellen. The last thing he needed was to get in trouble with the headman. But Ellen was too fast and she disappeared into the woods. Karl chose the path of least resistance. He could always hope she would disappear again into the woods. He forgot entirely about the hauntingly familiar figures Ellen had drawn in the dirt.
Karl couldn’t read. Neither could the headman. In fact, nobody in the village could read. To them the figures on the walls of the village shrine were just strange religious symbols. They knew the shrine was very old, but nobody really cared. One just went there to offer sacrifices to the gods, though nobody knew why. They were sure the figures had sacred power, but they had no idea what they were, or what they were supposed to depict.
In the woods around there were ruins of other buildings, but nobody knew much about them either. They were just part of the landscape. Ellen had once led her father to one of those ruined buildings outside the village. She tried to point out things on the wall to him. He’d told her she was very silly, and that there was no point wasting his time.
In fact, Karl thought whoever had built the stone buildings must have been pretty silly themselves. Why go to that much work for shelter when a few tree branches and some woven grass would do just as well. It was probably right that his silly daughter spent her time in all those silly piles of rock. He had left her there and returned to the village, never noticing her look of disappointment.
For several days nobody saw Ellen at all. Karl was so pleased not to have to deal with her that he didn’t really get that worried about what might have happened to her. Surely she’d reappear in time.
Ellen ran quickly through the woods to one of her caches of supplies. She had a hunting bow and a knife there, really all she needed to survive. She didn’t understand the problem. Did they imagine she would like about a thing like that? She was sure she had the symbols right. Why hadn’t they gotten her message. Over the 20 years of her life she had tried many things, including trying to move her lips the way other people did, but she’d always thought that when she drew the symbols people would understand her. But they didn’t.
Silly villagers, she thought. And silly me. Why didn’t I realize they never used the symbols themselves?
She ran through the woods for hours. Through the river gorge to the north ran a major trade route. At this point it didn’t belong to any country, king, or noble. It was considered wilderness. The caravans traveled with guards. Ellen had observed them many times before. She knew there were scraggly and poor caravans whose guards were dangerous themselves. She had barely escaped from contact with some of them before. But there were others whose clothes were rich. She had practiced writing the symbols she saw on the walls. It was with a caravan guard that she had finally made the connection between the symbols, the pictures, and events in her life.
So now she went looking for a caravan and the guards. She’d have to pick one carefully, because she didn’t want to be captured and enslaved. But with the right caravan, she might get the guards to come and help her deal with what she had found in the woods. It would be good for them too.
It was a full days travel on foot to the cliffs above the caravan road. Horses could make it much faster. When she arrived at the place where she usually climbed down the cliffs she found that the path was held. She should have thought of this. The people she had found near her own village would be planning to raid caravans, and this was the one place one could get down to the road easily. It would be impossible to sneak down the cliff where she had planned to.
There were other places to climb, but she had never done so. She moved perhaps a mile further along the road, going downstream. She knew from the guards that they were near where the canyon came to an end and the road moved into territory owned by a king and patrolled by his troops. She felt her first true fear as she faced the cliff. She hadn’t been afraid when she found the bandits. She hadn’t been afraid when her father had tried to catch her. She hadn’t even been afraid when she saw the path blocked. She had never climbed down a cliff like this.
She very nearly didn’t make it. Several times she came close to falling, and there wouldn’t be any second chances. She was so tired when she reached the bottom of the cliff that she couldn’t do anything but just lie there and try to recover. And then she fell asleep.
She was wakened by a man in armor. He was poking her with a stick. She jumped up and tried to reach her weapons, but he knocked her to the ground. It was the first time she had been caught asleep by an enemy, and this guard clearly proved to be an enemy.
It was lucky for her that the caravan was moving. These were the sort of merchants and guards who would not treat a girl in their midst well at all. But since they were moving they didn’t have time to do anything except throw her into a cage. She was not the only person in there. Apparently this caravan included slaves in its cargo.
The other women in the cage tried to talk to her, but she couldn’t hear them, and she could get nothing from the movement of their lips. She tried drawing symbols on the floor of the cage, but they just thought she was crazy and moved to the other end of the cage. Ellen thought if they got together they could break out of the cage. Prepared, she was sure she could break away from these guards. But the silly women weren’t cooperating.
Finally she scratched symbols for “ambush ahead” into the floor of the cage as carefully as she could. One of the guards looked at the symbols, but the silly man either couldn’t read or didn’t care what some girl had to say.
So the caravan was completely surprised by the ambush. The other women huddled at the back end of their cage, but Ellen watched carefully for any opportunity. The opportunity came when one of the guards was hit by an arrow and fell against the bars of the cage. Ellen was able to grab his dagger and cut the ropes that held the door. In a moment she was outside and grabbing a bow. It was heavier than her hunting bow, but she was able to pull it, and she started to shoot, while carefully and frequently checking behind her.
She moved slowly toward the cliff and she used her arrows against the attackers since it was clear that they had the advantage. She found these warriors much easier to hit than the game she had hunted in the forest, and most of them were not that well armored. If she had given her full effort, she might well have made the difference for them between victory and defeat. As it was, she killed the last of the attackers just after he had killed the last of the caravan guards.
What was left was a small number of the merchants and their servants, none of them armed. They huddled together and waited to see what this apparition from the forest would do to them. Silly people! Some of them didn’t even realize she was the girl who had been captured just an hour or so earlier.
She tried to release the women from the cage, but they were afraid to move as well. Silly women! They didn’t know who to trust even though she hadn’t given them any reason to fear her that she could see.
She tried to get the caravan folks to understand that they could go ahead and get moving, but they didn’t get the idea. So she sat on a ledge just above the road and watched them. She hoped another caravan would come along. She still wanted to talk to some real guards, and she knew that there were more bandits than had been involved in the attack.
It was past noon before anyone more showed up and it was a small patrol of guards. She had no idea where from. The lady who led the guards tried to motion her to come down off her ledge, but she kept her bow in hand and motioned for the guard to come to her.
When the lady came up to the ledge she tried to talk, but of course Ellen couldn’t understand her. Ellen motioned as though she wanted to write, and the lady produced a pencil and some paper. It was nice to deal with someone who didn’t just think she was silly! She slowly wrote down the basics about the ambush and then she drew a map showing where the bandits had their large camp.
After that things were easy. The guards hunted the bandits, and they were very skilled. They also released the women and promised to escort them back to town. They arrested the caravan merchants because they had taken the women from their town.
When it was all done, they returned to Ellen’s village. Ellen wrote a question for everyone. “Why is everyone so silly?” she asked. “The villagers ignore me, the caravan guards ignore my warning, the women think I’m dangerous. I think I hate these villagers.”
“Things look silly when you don’t understand them,” said the lady. “What’s really silly is when you won’t learn.”
“Yes,” said the other. “We call him Old Jack or Farmer Jack.”
“What do you mean that he has quite an arsenal?” asked the stranger. It was a risky question. People often reacted badly to someone who was too curious about their stock of weapons.
But the two villagers just laughed. “You’d really have to see it,” said one. The other just snickered.
So the stranger set about discovering just what kind of an arsenal it was that this Farmer Jack had. If his boss was to gain control of this village and the surrounding farms, he would certainly have to get rid of any arsenals that might be in the area.
That evening he asked a few of the people in the pub about Farmer Jack’s arsenal. He wanted to do it subtly, but it was rather difficult. “I heard there’s a Farmer Jack around here who has quite an arsenal, ha ha, do you know anything about it?” That sounded rather silly, but the reactions he got just weren’t normal. Some people looked at him as though he was crazy. Others laughed. A couple of them finally explained that in the mountains behind Farmer Jack’s farm there was a cave which was filled with weapons. What weapons? Oh, swords, crossbows, crossbow bolts, maybe even a ballista or two. One never knew what Farmer Jack might collect.
He thought he noticed a number of people trying to conceal their faces. He thought it might be that they were laughing, but he set that aside. What could be funny about a cache of weapons? That was one of the things his boss would want to know. He’d want to grab the arsenal first.
Over the next few days he tried to watch people as they went about their business, especially as they went to surrounding towns. But he never saw what he was looking for. He wanted to see some town militia or maybe even one or two people going and getting weapons or putting them back there in the arsenal in the hills behind Farmer Jack’s farm.
So he sent in a report to the boss and the boss sent a couple more scouts to the town. It was important to locate this arsenal before he made his move. His men would be spread thin, and even one well-equipped militia might be able to bring down his entire plan to control the area.
The new men actually scouted the area behind Farmer Brown’s farm. They looked through the hills, but they didn’t find any weapons, nor did they find anywhere that weapons might have been stored, nor did they see a single person carrying weapons one way or another. Well, except for one hunter who was using his hunting bow to hunt deer. They thought the hunter hadn’t seen them. It was important that nobody realized they were looking for the arsenal. That would just make people start to believe they were planning something, and that would be dangerous.
Finally the boss decided to make his move. In order to make certain that everything was safe, they decided to send the majority of their troops to secure Farmer Jack and to close off the path to the arsenal. It wouldn’t do, after all, to let people go get weapons from there.
They swept across the farm, surrounded the house, and grabbed Farmer Jack. The captain in charge of the operation congratulated himself on his success. There wasn’t so much as an injury, provided one didn’t count Private Smythe, who had turned his ankle in a post hole in one of the fields.
Farmer Jack was an old man. The captain thought he might be 80 or 90 years old. “Where’s your arsenal?” he asked. “We want your arsenal!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Farmer Jack.
The captain slapped him a couple of times, but one of his lieutenants pointed out that with such an old man, a slap might even be fatal. So they just told Farmer Jack that he might as well tell them, because they’d be there until they figured out where the arsenal was. They’d find it eventually, so why not make things easy?
But Farmer Jack seemed uninclined to make things easy. He just sat in his big living room chair and thought. In the meantime, the captain’s men made a thorough search of the area for the arsenal or for any path that might lead the the arsenal. They didn’t find anything that wasn’t part of the ordinary farm equipment.
But at least, thought the captain, nobody else could find it either.
Just after dark they heard the sound of horse’s hooves on the path leading to the house. Such men as weren’t still searching for the arsenal prepared to stop the approaching horses. But what met them was a knight on his horse and with him several men-at-arms. If they’d all been there, they might have stood up to him, but as it was, they had no chance. The men surrendered quickly, and it was only minutes before the knight was in the house with Farmer Jack.
Now the captain was sure there was an arsenal, cleverly hidden. What else would make an obviously well-off and well-equipped knight show up at one very old man’s farm?
“Your plan, and your boss’s plan is finished,” said the knight. “I and my brothers in arms have seen to that.”
There was a long pause. Finally the captain couldn’t stand it. “I have to know,” he said. “Where is the arsenal?”
“The arsenal?” said the knight.
“Yes. Our spies reported that Farmer Jack had quite an arsenal.”
The knight stood staring at the captain for a long time. Then he started to laugh. He laughed long and hard. Finally he got control of himself. “You think there’s an arsenal around here?” he asked.
The captain nodded.
“Well, I suppose there is,” He reached out to shake the captain’s hand. Meet Farmer Jack’s arsenal,” he said. “Well, part of it, at least.”
The captain looked blank.
“Yes, I suppose I’ll have to explain.” He paused a moment. “You see, Farmer Jack has been living here for a long time. None of us are quite sure how old he is. Twenty years ago his wife died, and since then he’s lived on his own. Well, except for one thing. Any child or young person could find a meal in Farmer Jack’s house. They could find a job on the farm. And if they’d hang around long enough, Farmer Jack would teach them to read and write and the basics of handling farm tools, and yes, weapons. He was once a sergeant in the king’s army. He had so many of them that people took to calling them Farmer Jack’s arsenal.”
The knight turned to Farmer Jack. “I take it the current crop is safe,” he said.
“They’re out in the hills,” said Farmer Jack. “That’s where I keep my arsenal when there’s trouble.”
The knight looked back at the captain who still looked confused. “Don’t you get it, man?” he asked. “Half the government officials from here to the king’s court once found shelter here at this farm. We don’t talk about it, because Farmer Jack doesn’t like us to. He’s says it’s just what someone who has something ought to do. And yes, I said ‘we’, because I too learned which end of a sword was which right out there in that yard.”
“People took to calling us Farmer Jack’s arsenal, not because we might help him, but because there were so many of us. But you heard me say he–and his good wife–taught us to read and write. Not one in ten people up in these hills can read and write. Not one in twenty know even the basics of using a sword. So when we left here most of us made good. We had the skills.”
“So we really didn’t need to go after this farm at all,” said the captain.
“Oh, it didn’t really matter,” said the knight. “Farmer Jack sent word to several of us a couple of weeks ago. The kids noticed your spies searching the hills and got suspicious.”
“They said nobody had noticed them.”
“Doubtless they never noticed the kids. Nobody ever does. But they were the arsenal, in more ways than one.”
According to the host schedule, I’m to host the Christian Carnival for September. Please nominate posts for inclusion in the Carnival. You can nominate your own posts or those by others that you think are relevant. I’m planning to find some extras so we get a good cross-section of Christian thought in the blogosphere during the month of August. Any post written since the last carnival (August 1, 2012) is eligible for inclusion. So please head on over to the nifty submission form and submit a post.
After 30 years as a reality show star, Rafael decided he wanted to do something real. Something important. He examined his considerable bank account and decided to run for congress.
So just as he’d done when he picked his next reality show, he started to research. After studying the various political consultants he found there was one, known just as Kev, who had a 100% win record. His real name, so far as anyone could tell, was Kevin Smith, but nobody called him that any more. He had his name trademarked. His prices were several times what anyone else’s were, but with his record, he could charge them and afford to be selective.
Now Rafael thought of himself as a pretty special person, much superior to the blips. “Blip” was the slang term for someone who spent their entire life on Basic Living Payments. With the advance of automation very few people were actually required to work. Basic Living Payments were quite adequate to live a reasonable lifestyle. The only problem was that one felt rather useless, provided one bothered with such feelings. And there was plenty of entertainment to keep one’s mind occupied.
Entertainment. That was the key. Entertainers still had jobs. One could, of course, fake it. Animated movies were barely distinguishable from ones done with live actors (if that). At the same time, however, there had been a revival of plays. Well, that, and reality shows. Shows that were certified to place real humans at real risk. Not massive risk, but real. And Rafael had been a reality show great.
But now he wanted to do something important, so he sent off a message to Kev. (Nobody bothered with the “e” in e-mail any more. There was no snailmail.) He thought it was likely that Kev would ignore him. After all, he had no political experience at all.
But Kev responded almost immediately. He asked for a face to face chat. Now this no longer meant that they would get together, but rather than they would communicate electronically in real-time complete with 3D video.
Kev looked at Rafael for a few moments after they connected. “I already checked, and you can afford my services. The question is, do you want to work for me?”
“I thought you would be deciding whether you wanted to work with me,” said Rafael. “After all, I’m a political novice. I might not be winning material.”
“I already know you’re potentially winning material. You can afford my price. But can you work with me?”
“I work well with others and under direction.”
“Let’s see then. We need a “look” for you,” said Kev. He produced an image on the screen. It fit with Rafael’s body type and general size, but it was both more heroic in expression and yet more common in general appearance.
“I see what some of that fee goes for. Plastic surgery.” Rafael looked doubtful.
“Now we need a history.” Kev started to outline some points. It left Rafael with time for the reality shows he’d starred in, and it appeared Kev knew precisely when he’d been recording the shows and accounted for the time correctly. At other times, according to this time, he’d been involved in other sports and some intellectual activities, most of which he couldn’t really identify.
“But what’s wrong with my own history?” asked Rafael.
“Your history is very good. But it doesn’t guarantee a win. It only makes it probable. I guarantee a win.”
“What about policies and positions?”
“We’ll determine those from the polling.”
“So what you mean by ‘working with you’ is that I accept plastic surgery, have my life story written, and let you pick my positions.”
“I didn’t say anything about plastic surgery.”
“But I don’t look like the picture you showed me.”
“You won’t be appearing in public.”
“Don’t I have to meet voters?”
“I’ll have actors to do that.”
“If I had done all the things your bio says I did, I’d be broke and wouldn’t be able to pay your fee!”
“Nobody has to know that. Besides, isn’t the point of most of those things to have done them? Well, you’re just buying the ‘have done’ cheap.”
“So none of it will be real.”
“You’ll be a congressman. That will be real. Well, more or less.”
“What do you mean?”
“We’ll have actors to take care of actually appearing in Congress.”
“But they’d have to vote the way I say, right?”
“Well, actually we’ll use the polling data for that. We have to be prepared to get you reelected!”
“So none of it will be real. None of it.” Rafael sounded discouraged.
“Actually, what does reality have to do with it?” asked Kev, sounding a bit puzzled.
For once I’m going to contribute a non-fiction piece to the one word at a time blog carnival. Why would I do such an astonishing thing?
Well, when I saw the word, the first thing I remember was the apple ban.
So what, you ask, is an apple ban? Who could possibly ban apples? Are not apples truly wonderful fruit? Should they not be recommended, perhaps even commanded? (Well, unless you’re in the Garden of Eden as conceived by a medieval artist.)
This happened in 1971. Well, it actually happened earlier than that, but it impacted me in 1971 so, considering I was a teenager at the time, it didn’t really happen until it impacted me. That year, in the fall, I traveled with my parents to Guyana. As I’ve had to explain many times, that’s not Ghana (which is in western Africa), it’s Guyana, South America (which is also not South Africa). I specify all these things because, when I was living in Guyana, my mail sometimes went to those other places. Often it went to South Africa because somebody wrote “Guyana, S. A.” as the last line of the address, and human error proceeded apace.
After we moved to Guyana, my father was taken out of action for a period of time due to emergency surgery (a story in itself), and I got to explore the country alone. George Bernard Shaw said that the England and America are two nations separated by a common language. He was, perhaps, right, yet he would have been more right if he’d said this of America and Guyana. We’d been told that people in Guyana spoke English. They do. When they feel like it.
But normally they speak creolese, essentially an English based creole. Back in those days people tended to regard a creole as a sort of illiterate version of a major language. In fact, it’s a naturally developed language that results from mixing of parent languages. And, as with all languages, the ravages of time and the foibles of human beings.
Because of my father’s illness, I got to introduce myself to the country on my own. I got on the bus for downtown expecting to hear English, and I couldn’t understand a word that was said. When I talked to the bus driver in English, however, he spoke to me in English. I had to ask around in order to find out what was going on. Three years of life in beautiful (might I say gorgeous) Guyana, and visiting Americans couldn’t understand me any more, though I could switch to properly cultured English, as any of my Guyanese friends could as well.
So what does all this have to do with the apple ban? Well, very little, except that it was during this time that I learned about it. One of my friends informed me that the government had banned the import of apples. Now apples don’t grow in Guyana. Many other wonderful things grow there, but not apples. So apples had to be imported. And apples were a specialty at Christmas. One had to have one’s apples for Christmas.
The government’s point of view was that they had a balance of payments problem, and anything that wasn’t really necessary didn’t need to be imported. As a generally free trade oriented American–and at the age of 14 I already had many vigorous political opinions–I didn’t think much of this approach, but of course I didn’t have anything to say about it. And to be honest, except that some of my friends were feeling very deprived in that they couldn’t get apples for Christmas, I didn’t really miss them. Papayas, mangoes, pineapples, bananas, and many other wonderful fruits were quite adequate. One of the major benefits of living in Guyana for three years as a teenager is that I got to hear a very different perspective on political issues than I would have heard at home.
I don’t know how long the apple ban lasted. It was still in effect when I left the country. And therein is another story. In addition to banning certain imports, the government eventually decided to ban the transfer of actual currency. By closing off the exchange, Guyanese currency could not be exchanged overseas without government permission, but you also couldn’t get foreign currency in country. When you entered the country, your currency was counted, and you weren’t allowed to exit with any more currency than you brought with you.
We had entered the country before that law went into effect, so I could not take any U. S. currency out of the country with me. I often marvel at the things my parents accepted in my life. I wanted to leave before they did, so they got me the ticket, along with an Ameripass, which would allow me to travel anywhere in the United States by Greyhound bus for 30 days. They also arranged for me to go to the church offices in Miami after I landed and pick up some currency. I had to take a taxi, and I could only pay for it after I picked up the money.
I was 17 at the time. I’m sure my parents’ prayer life increased, but they let me go nonetheless.
Oh, by the way, there were apples in Miami. But after three years I wasn’t in an excessive hurry to eat them. And as I moved north, I started missing all those tropical fruits I had grown used to in Guyana. They weren’t banned, but they weren’t that easy to find.
Victor sized up the man across the table from him. He could see the young man’s eyes flicker around the room, noting the watching prison guards and the other signs that said, “This is a jail.” It was a county jail, but still definitely a jail. Victor saw an odd mix of defiance and serenity, determination and fear in the young man’s expression.
“The Sheriff said you wanted to see a pastor. What can I do for you?”
“What church are you from?” asked Carl.
Victor was surprised. When someone asked for a pastor and didn’t specify which, they normally went straight to their problem. It might be help with their bail, contact with loved ones, or some kind of spiritual counseling.
“My church is called the 10th Street Gospel Fellowship. It’s non-denominational. But why don’t we discuss your problem here.”
“I need to know who you are. Are you born again?”
Victor paused. He was surprised by the question, but he had asked it of many who called themselves Christians himself. Every Christian should be born again and willing to say it. “Yes, he said. I’m a born again Christian. What about you?”
“I am too,” said Carl, looking neither surprised nor offended. It appeared he expected to be asked as well. Then he added, “And do you believe the Bible? The whole Bible?”
“Yes, I’m a Bible believing Christian.”
“Good,” said Carl, and then he paused a moment, as though he found it harder to ask his next question. “Do you believe in the Holy Spirit? Do you believe God can speak to us today?”
Victor was still puzzled. But again it was a question he had asked many times himself. “Yes,” he said, “I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe He will speak to you. But we will only be allowed a limited time for this visit. Perhaps you need to tell me what you need.”
“I need to talk to a born again, Bible believing, Spirit filled pastor. What did you think I needed?” It could have been belligerent, but it just sounded puzzled, as though there was only one possible reason for this visit.
“Well, I’m used to being called here by people who need bail money …”
“I don’t plan to post bail.”
“… or need me to contact their loved ones …”
“I have nobody who would be interested.”
“… or perhaps have other financial needs …
“I think they provide my needs here.”
“… or who want spiritual counsel.”
“Well, I don’t know if it’s ‘spiritual counsel’ I want. I just wanted to talk to someone who would understand. Then maybe you can pray with me.”
“Well, how can I help you then? Would you like to explain why you’re here?”
“I’m being persecuted for righteousness’ sake.”
Victor couldn’t keep just a bit of tension from his voice. He was unaware of any outbreak of persecution in his Christian community. Apathy, false doctrine, worldly living, yes. Persecution, other than a bit of ridicule for those who were truly committed Christians, no. “What particular form of righteousness are you being persecuted for?” he asked.
Carl didn’t seem to notice any veiled sarcasm. “I’ve been arrested for witnessing,” he said.
“Why don’t you tell me what happened?”
“I would have thought you’d have some idea, if you are truly born again, Bible believing, and Spirit filled. If you are being a true witness for God in this place, you will likely be arrested.”
“But what specifically happened to you?”
“Well, I came into town, and I heard the Lord saying to me, ‘Chamber of Commerce’. I knew that meant that I was to witness to the business people of the town. I had already seen several shops involved with pornography, so the business community here is certainly corrupt, or they wouldn’t allow such things. When I got to the Chamber of Commerce I found that the parking lot was filled. There was a meeting going on. The Lord had gathered people together to hear from me.”
Victor was listening with ever increasing horror. He was afraid he knew where this was going. Carl continued.
“I went into the meeting and waved for attention. They ignored me. Then I shouted. Finally I went up on the platform and grabbed the microphone. I told them that they needed to repent for the sins of this city and invite Jesus to come in and rule in the businesses, the school, and the government.”
“And then you were arrested.”
“Yes. There were deputies right there in the room. Apparently the meeting was about businesses working with law enforcement. So I was arrested for disturbing the peace and brought here.”
“Are you surprised they arrested you?” asked Victor.
“I was just doing what God told me to do. I even told them that God had called me to speak to them. But they still arrested me.”
“You can hardly be surprised. You could have chosen a better time.”
“But God told me to do that. When Peter and James wanted to preach in the temple they just went ahead and did it. They said they had to obey God rather than men.”
“But they didn’t go and interrupt a meeting of the Sanhedrin in order to witness. They preached to people in the courtyard. You went into someone else’s building, someone else’s conference room, and interrupted their activities.”
Carl looked surprised and puzzled. “I thought you were a Bible believing Christian,” he said. “Surely you remember Paul preaching on Mars Hill. That wasn’t a church. Or in cities like Lystra and Derbe, where he was persecuted. He didn’t ask permission.”
“But Paul was invited to speak on Mars Hill, and when he spoke in the Synagogues, he was invited to do so.”
“But God told me to do this. You said you believed God speaks to people today. He spoke to me. He told me where to go to preach.”
“Are you sure he didn’t mean you should start a business, join the Chamber of Commerce, and reform them from inside?” asked Victor.
“You’re mocking me. Get thee behind me Satan! Quit tempting me to doubt!” Carl was standing up and shouting. Two guards were running over.
As Carl was being led away, he heard the words “apostate” and “persecutor” amongst the many thrown at him. “But I was just witnessing!” was the last thing Carl shouted. What a fool! thought Victor. No common sense at all.
It wasn’t until he was halfway back to his church that he began to wonder. What in the way I teach the Bible and listening to the Holy Spirit would prevent someone from doing what Carl did? Have I taught them any discernment? Any good sense?
Jeremiah, known just as Jer for short took in the scene in an instant. He was a sheriff’s deputy, and a good one. He could write the story in a moment. He instantly also regretted not calling for backup before he got out of his patrol car and walked into this field. But he had recognized his friend Billy amongst the young men in the field, and he had been certain he could handle whatever Billy got into. Billy got into little trouble, not big.
Had been certain. Not now. The body lying on the ground didn’t look good. He thought he’d seen movement in the moment he had to take in the scene. He didn’t have his gun out. He didn’t see any guns on the young men there, but he was certain there was one under Billy’s jacket.
Before he could say anything, Billy spoke up. “It’s not what it looks like,” he said. “He’s a terrorist, … a Muslim terrorist. We caught him and he attacked us.” Jer considered the half a dozen young men and the slight figure on the ground. The scenario was unlikely.
“You’re going to have to come with me,” he said, looking at Billy, but taking in the group.
“Listen, Jer,” said Billy. “You don’t have to do this. You’re the first on the scene. Let the others go, then I’ll claim self defense. He is a terrorist. We heard him talking about Allah and all that and how bad things would happen to this country. He was going to blow things up!”
“Yeah,” said another of the young men. “We’re patriots! We’re defending our country!”
Jer could see Billy watching him, hoping he’d be distracted. But even though he’d managed to get himself into this bad situation—why hadn’t he called it in!—he knew how to handle himself.
“No, you’re not,” said Jer. “You’re breaking the law.”
“I can’t believe you’d get soft on these terrorists,” said Billy, looking shocked. “I always thought you were a patriotic American!”
Jer saw the slight movement of Billy’s right hand. Billy thought himself fast. He thought himself quite a marksman. But his expertise was largely in his own mind. Before his hand was halfway to the open flap of his jacket, Jer had his gun in his hand.
“Don’t go there!” he said firmly.
“You wouldn’t shoot your old friend Billy, would you?”
“Put your hands on your head, or you’ll find out,” said Jer. His look and tone took in all the young men. A couple of them moved as if to run. “Don’t even think about it! Get down on the ground!” he said firmly, and just loud enough to make everyone hear.
With everyone on the ground he made that call for backup.
As Billy was being placed in the back of one of the cruisers, he called Jer over. “You’ll see! He’s a terrorist.”
“No, Billy,” said Jer. “He’s just a student with some opinions you don’t like. He was walking home. He lives just a block from here. Luckily for you, he’s going to live.”
“But he hates America,” said Billy. “Some time soon he’ll blow up one of our schools, and then you’ll be sorry you stopped us! I’m a patriot!”
Jer just turned away. Someday he might just have to stop a terrorist. He figured it could happen. Or it might be one of his colleagues. But he was pretty sure it would be someone like him who did it, not someone like Billy.