Review of Rich Rurshell’s Short Story “Subject: Galilee”

world war 4

© James Pyles

I’m continuing my slow review of the stories in the Zombie Pirate Publishing SciFi anthology World War Four (which also features my short story “Joey,” but right now, that’s beside the point). Today, I highlight Rich Rurshell’s tale “Subject: Galilee.”

Much of the symbolism echoes Christian themes, but Rurshell’s story takes place in the far future. A war is raging between two corporate factions, Liberty West which uses robotic warriors called “Romans,” and Zhang Industries’ human combatants. In between them and a village of peaceful people as well as defected soldiers, is the mysterious armored and cloaked being known as Galilee. He came out of no where, possesses enormous, almost god-like abilities, reprogramming the Roman machines to serve him, his armor all but invulnerable, and seems to be the savior that the world needs, that is until both corporations decide to make him a target.

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Dueling Holidays

christmas wordle

Image found at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

“Oh come on, Dave. Certainly during this Yuletide holiday you can celebrate with your family a little, put a present or two under their tree, herald the coming of your Savior. I’ll even wear mistletoe on the front of my waist tonight the way you like it.” Suzanne, winking naughtily, was pulling out all the stops to get her husband out of his recliner in front of the smoldering fireplace in the cozy living room so they could drive the fifteen miles to his brother’s house.

Instead, he just looked up at her with a forlorn expression on his forty-five year old face. “We sent Bob’s family a card, and they know we don’t celebrate Christmas. I mean, they do the whole Santa, reindeer, stocking thing.”

“Get up.” She grabbed his arm forcefully, and he let her pull him to his feet. They both were already dressed for the festive meal his younger brother and their family had every Christmas Eve, so it was just a matter of her getting him to the car. “I don’t care if they put Christmas pudding in the ears of all their elves on their shelves, we’re going.” The forty-two year old software developer gripped Dave with all the strength her gym weight training produced.

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Is Jeff Sessions Trying to Establish an American State Religion?

I know I’m pushing it, but I decided to share these thoughts here on my “fiction” blog.

Morning Meditations

sessions U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

I just found out that “Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday announced the Department of Justice’s creation of a ‘religious liberty task force’ to ‘help the department fully implement our religious guidance'” over at CNN.

Actually, someone I know from my Powered by Robots sister blog reblogged an article called The First Amendment Under Siege posted at The Shinbone Star. You can find out more about their staff here (although discovering that one of their reporters used to work for MSNBC told me a lot about the particular bent of this publication).

I suppose I shouldn’t get into politics on my “religious” blog, but this topic is or should be of interest to all people of faith in the U.S.

It’s tough to get an unbiased view of what Sessions is up to, so I had to look at a number of differing…

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What’s Wrong with Putting Religion in Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories?

parallel universes

Found at numerous publications including TrendInTech.com – Not image credit available

I just finished reading a blog post called Of Permanent Things, Part II written by my friend and Holocaust educator Dan Hennessy. It reminded me of the importance of including religious and spiritual themes in fiction writing, including science (speculative) fiction and fantasy.

I’m in the process of producing first drafts of two novels. The first is about five children mysteriously transported into a fantasy world of dragons, demons, and elves having to undergo a heroic journey and facing danger and adventure at every turn. The second is about a fifteen-year-old African-American girl taking up her recently deceased Grandpa’s journey into a Steampunk world in order to help a younger version of her Grandpa stop a corrupt tycoon from destroying both of their universes.

While I don’t make it explicit in the fantasy novel, the five Davidson children are Jewish. No, they’re not observant, and aside from the occasional mention of praying (usually when the situation is very grim), I have, at best, cast them in the role of Reform Jews. Why I’ve made them Jewish as opposed to generic “white kids” will become apparent only in the latter portion of the third novel where their journey will be finally resolved.

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Encouragement, Discouragement, and the Impostor Syndrome

impostor syndrome

azilliondollarscomics.com

Every day the Medium Daily Digest appears in my Gmail inbox, giving me the opportunity to read articles from various progressive voices. If you’ve read other of my social commentaries on this blog (not the hottest of topics among my readers based on the statistics, “likes,” and comments), you know I sample a wide range of opinions in an effort to keep informed.

Much of the time, it isn’t easy reading the opinions of people who don’t like you, or at least, don’t like what they think you stand for, but I don’t want to spend all my time reading and listening to viewpoints with which I already agree.

That’s why the article We Need to Redefine Success for Writers by James Ardis came as a bit of a surprise.

He certainly isn’t widely published, and his advice seemed fairly generic, but I was compelled by the source. Usually, it is the more socially and politically conservative authors, typically who operate in the speculative fiction genre, who are the ones suggesting indie publishing.

The Ardis essay was the sort of “cross-pollination” I’ve always hoped was possible but feared was doomed from the outset.

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What Are You Trying to Tell Me?

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write.

jewish paul

Image credit: Drake Dunaway – the Jewish Paul

He closed his Bible at the end of 2 Thessalonians 3:17 and pondered. Did Paul know that his letters, those that survived to be canonized anyway, would become binding instructions for all Christianity nearly two-thousand years into the future? Could his letters really be compared to the writing of the Prophets in the Old Testament, and especially the words of Jesus in the Gospels?

“It’s in the Bible and Pastor says that’s good enough, but is it really? It’s not like Jesus was dictating the letters to Paul. There are some parts of the epistles he said were his own judgment and not of the Spirit.”

He knew both the Jews and the Church believed Paul invented a new religion called Christianity that totally broke from everything that had been written in the first two-thirds of the Bible. If God wanted to write a “love letter” to humanity, why was it a letter that’s so hard to understand, and with so many contradictions?

If God wrote a “love letter” like so many mushy, feely people at his church keep telling him, why were there so many different interpretations?

“I know. Pastor said it was because of sin, but all of the questions I ask him, he has pat, one word or one sentence answers to. Isn’t God more complicated than that?”

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If You Don’t Believe In Me

destroyed church

St John Church in Benwood, West Virginia (Photo: CNS)

Darwin Oliver Starling stared down at the smoldering ruins of the Vatican from the window seat on Flight 3076 which had taken off from Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport ten minutes ago. Police agencies all over Europe had been investigating for a week, but so far had no clues as to the method used to initiate such mass destruction, or who had perpetrated such a heinous act.

“Heinous.” Starling whispered the word to himself. It was the worshipers of the Christian God who were heinous, and the Secret Order of Athéiste had been dedicated to wiping them from existence for the past two-hundred years.

It wasn’t just the Catholics, of course. In spite of what the news and entertainment media seemed to be pushing on the uninformed masses, Christianity wasn’t represented only by a bunch of child-molesting Priests, and American southern televangelists with big hair and greedy pocketbooks. They were everywhere.

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Raising Jews

weeding

Found at Balcony Garden Web

Jeff and Peter went together about as well as wine and Twinkies, but they were next door neighbors, and unless one of them moved, there was no helping it.

The former was weeding the flowerbed in his backyard for the umpteenth time when the latter called out over the fence. “I’m having a Bible study over at the clubhouse next Sunday afternoon. I think you’d find it interesting.

It wasn’t that Jeff wasn’t a Christian, but he wasn’t Catholic or anything near it. “Pretty sure Leah has something planned for that afternoon. Sorry, Peter.” He wasn’t sorry, and he’d have to see if Leah wanted to go out for lunch and maybe a movie that day.

“It’s not like we’re going to sprinkle you with holy water or anything. Look, I’m going to be getting sandwiches and drinks at the drive-thru after services get out at “Sign of the Cross.” Come on, it’ll be fun. I’m sure you have some pretty interesting insights about Jesus.”

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That Which is of Good Repute

big brother

Image from the film “Nineteen-Eighty Four (1984).

Warning: This is a work of fiction but also a controversial commentary involving social movements, political positions, and religions and it might not be considered “politically correct” by some or most. If you believe you might become upset or offended by a minority point of view (from my perspective), please stop reading now. Thank you.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NASB)

Joseph Kelley closed his Bible and sighed. “Yes, but what does the world consider true, honorable, right, and pure these days?”

He got up from his bed where he’d been reading, walked into the small closet and felt on the wall behind his jackets. There he found the hidden panel and pressed the three catches in a particular order to release it. With the panel open, he put the Bible back in alongside his concordance, a torn and aging copy of C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity,” and his dear departed wife’s Stone Edition Tanakh. Then he sealed the panel again and rearranged the clothes hangers so his treasure trove was again concealed.

Of course, he had memorized the contacts list for his cell of fellow believers. That was the one thing he could never commit to writing or any other record. Even if he were caught and they found his contraband, they would (hopefully) believe he was a rogue and not part of a larger group or fellowship.

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Cursed

voodoo queen

Wearing a tignon, Angela Bassett channels voodoo queen Marie Laveau. Michele K. Short/FX – From “American Horror Story.”

The Tenth Chapter in the Undead Life of Sean Becker

New Orleans, Louisiana – 1972

“You cannot leave us, Catherine. Family ties are too strong. You must come back to us.”

“No, Mama Sallie, I can’t.

“You love this boy?”

“He’s a man, Mama Sallie. I do love him. He’s asked me to marry him.”

“He’s from the outside, Cathy. I approved you going to their schools so we could have educated men and women in our Family. You have not been fully initiated because we need daywalkers to guard us, but we could initiate him, make him one of us.”

“I know he wouldn’t want that, Mama.”

Sallie rose up on her throne, her ire illuminated by candlelight. “You told him?”

“No, Mama Sallie. I swear. It’s just that no one wants the initiation.”

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