The Religious Defector

silhouette-interview

Found at YouTube

“We appreciate you allowing us to interview you, Mr. Kwon.”

“Not at all, Ms. Singer. It is a pleasure to be here, to be able to tell my story.”

The middle-aged gentleman was dressed casually in a button down checkered shirt and jeans. He looked uncomfortable in the television studio but the reporter, Judith Singer, tried to put him at ease.

“Just tell us your experiences in your own words.” Her tone was soft, gentle really. She leaned forward slightly to indicate interest but not enough to block the television camera. Off to one side, she could see the wall mounted monitor that displayed what the audience was seeing. The dialogue was translated and projected as subtitles because he didn’t speak the same language as most of the audience.

“My country is officially atheist. Except for the show church in the nation’s capital that tourists visit, our religion is illegal, well, all religion actually, but especially any public Christian worship.

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The Night They Burned “The Cat in the Hat”

book burning

Found at Blunderbuss Magazine

The older couple held hands and cried at the book burning party. Like everyone else in town, they were compelled by government edict to attend and witness the “liberating” event. Only State approved books were allowed in schools anymore. The State had been collecting those publications deemed “racist,” “sexist,” and every other forbidden “ist” on their list and storing them in a warehouse near the town square just for this occasion.

Fortunately, children under six were exempt from attending, so their grandkids were spared this atrocity, being cared for at home by their son.

“How did the world come to this, Jeannie? I thought book burning went out with the Nazis.”

“There are always Nazis, Mike. They’re just called by different names.”

“What a terrible world we live in.”

“At least they’re not kicking down our front door and confiscating our library.”

“That’s true, darling. But we have to keep reminding the little ones not to tell their teachers what we read to them at home.”

“Do you think it will ever get better, Mike?”

“As long as we teach Jimmy and Autumn to grow up as critical thinkers, to trust themselves and those who love them rather than the State, then yes, it will. Someday they’ll be running the nation and then it won’t be the State anymore. It’ll be a free country again.”

“We won’t live to see it, will we?”

“Probably not, Jeannie, but our grandchildren will. Our hope for the future is in them.

I haven’t gotten blatantly political on this blog in quite some time, but I read a series of stories in social media this morning that bothered me, and when I’m bothered, I process my thoughts and emotions by writing (some authors have told me they are “blocked” when they become upset which just astounds me).

It all started with a story I found on Facebook published by a conservative news agency. I had to fact check it since news organizations that lean either one direction or the other politically and socially aren’t always totally trustworthy. I found the story published by a number of venues including the Washington Post and it’s called ‘Racist propaganda’: Librarian rejects Melania Trump’s gift of Dr. Seuss books.

You can click on the link I provided above to read the story, but basically, it tells the tale of First Lady Melania Trump donating some books to what I gather to be a rather posh public school in Cambridge, Massachusetts on the occasion of National Read a Book Day. Apparently, the school’s librarian Liz Phipps Soerio took exception to some of the donated books, specifically those penned by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel). You can read Ms. Phipps Soerio’s letter to the First Lady at The Horn Book blog.

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Rediscovering Serenity

koi pond

© Sora Sagano, Nemichi-Jinja, Seki, Japan

It had been years subjectively since Tamara had been to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, years since she’d let herself relax and stare at the serene Koi pond. For the last ten years, she struggled, on the run, hiding from Slaver Gangs, scrounging for food, making alliances, and often being betrayed.

Then she found the bunker. She’d traveled further into the Forbidden Zone than she ever had before, further than anyone dared. The disaster that caused civilization’s collapse started here. She found a breach in the bunker that led to the Temporal Accelerator. The power source still worked. Tamara had been a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore Labs before the collapse. She figured out how to opeate the controls.

She went back before the collapse, back to a more peaceful time in her life, a time when her Mom and Dad used to take her here, to this pond, to the Zen Garden. She used the time machine to send her on a one-way trip to the past. Tears streamed down her face as she watched her parents holding her hands. She was only five years old. “I miss you both so much.”

I wrote this small piece of flash fiction in response to the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner – 2017 Week #05 challenge. The photo prompt is at the top of this page.

Stories can’t be more than 200 words and mine comes in at 197.

To read other stories based on this prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Tales From The Dystopia: Training The Toxic Dog

woman walking man

Image: YouTube

Carl Jason had been wandering in the woods for three days when he saw the lights through the trees. He’d gone for a hike away from the camp and became disoriented. He had a knife, so he cut fir branches to cover himself at night so he didn’t freeze as he slept. He knew something about the local plants, so he at least got some small amount of nourishment.

The lights, it was near sunset and he might have missed them in full daylight. As the trees thinned and he stepped out onto a grassy field, he saw it was a complex of buildings, like a business park or something. He hoped there was still someone around. He needed to phone home. His brothers and Dad must have gotten frantic when he didn’t return to their camp.

It was an annual tradition. Carl and his brothers Mike, and Dave, all lived in different parts of the country. The only time they could be sure to reconnect with each other and Dad was during their yearly autumn camping trip.

Carl was stiff and cold. He’d tripped yesterday and collected some scrapes along with a twisted ankle. He could walk on it, but he limped and he was slow.

“Hey!” Carl saw a few people in the distance walking between two buildings. “Hey there! I need help!”

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The Revolution of 2030

riot

Image: Mark Graves / The Oregonian / Associated Press

“Hi. I’m Susie; she/her/hers.”

“Stop that! We don’t do that here.”

Susie cringed when the group leader Sharon snapped at her.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean…” Susie felt abruptly crushed but was determined not to shed tears, especially in front of them.

“No, I’m sorry.” Sharon realized she’d been overreacting, though she had good reason. “It’s my fault. I’m just so tired of the tyranny of those words.”

“We’re all feeling worn down by it, Shar.” Francisco chimed in wanting to calm the mood a bit.

There were twelve of them gathered in a small room in the basement of the university’s psychology building. It was nearly midnight, but being a teaching assistant, Francisco’s pass card opened the doors after hours.

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V for Vendetta: A Retro DVD Review

vYesterday, I reviewed the V for Vendetta graphic novel. I was generally impressed, but a lot of “dystopia” material came out of the latter half of the 20th century, so by the time I got around to reading Moore and Lloyd’s work, I found it hard to be overly impressed. Also, the length of the story and the numerous elements introduced made it difficult to follow at times. That figures prominently into my review of the film V for Vendetta (2005).

First of all, who wouldn’t be excited to watch a film starring Hugo Weaving (as “V”), Natalie Portman (as “Evey”) and particularly John Hurt (as “Adam Sutler”)? I was really looking forward to the experience but at the same time, worried because films almost never do justice to their original print or graphic novel source. This time, I’m not so sure the rule holds.

I mentioned before that I believe Moore was a bit too lengthy in his writing of the graphic novel. It made it difficult for me as the reader to be able to grasp and hold all of the various threads he introduced and have them all come together in a cohesive manner by the last page. As a film where everything had to be introduced, expressed, and resolved in 132 minutes (the film’s running time), brevity and economy was forced upon the story, making the movie version of “V for Vendetta” quite a bit more efficient than the print version. Of course, part of the motivation behind cutting down the length was to accommodate modern audiences, both in how long they can tolerate sitting on their bum in a movie theatre, and in appealing to a wider population than might be attracted to Moore’s and Lloyd’s production.

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When the King of Israel Rules

war

U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan (Credit: Reuters/Parwiz Parwiz) Reuters/Parwiz Parwiz

“We are all Israelis.” The phrase kept repeating itself in Steve’s head as he huddled in the makeshift bomb shelter in the basement of his house. He never thought this day would come. At least he sent Nancy and the kids away from the city to her uncle’s farm in Idaho. They’ll stay safer there.

He could hear the explosions getting closer. After the bombardment was over, the ground troops would move in. Steve still couldn’t believe that this great nation was being attacked by a country the size of a postage stamp. Where did they get that kind of power?

The enemy freely answered that question, but it was patently insane to Steve. It wasn’t that he wasn’t a believer. He had been a born again Christian most of his adult life. But he’d also been told that God was on the side of the Church and of America. How could things have gone so wrong?

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You’ll Never Get The Funding

microscope

Image: medicaldaily.com

“I tell you the proof is right here!”

To say that Marvin Graves was a maverick in the Hollingsworth University’s Department of Disorders and Cures was a gross understatement. He was always proposing research and spreading opinions that bordered on heresy. If his father hadn’t been the esteemed Grand Wizard Amadeus Graves, he would have long ago been expelled from the Order of Healers, if not put in prison.

“Oh, please!” Graves’ closest colleague, Mage First Class Linder Jilling, was actually quite fond of his quirky research partner, and had to admit, there was no finer mate to go pub crawling with than ol’ Marvy Graves. But while Jilling was inclined to tolerate Marvin’s eccentricities at times, today he had gone too far.

“I am not looking into that…that thing. I’m not even sure it’s legal to possess it.” Jilling wouldn’t even look at the device Graves called a microscope. He just waved his hand in its general direction.

“I tell you that I’ve found the cause of Childhood Breathing Inhibition and it’s not Draco’s Blood Magic as we’ve always been taught,” Graves insisted. “It’s not magic at all!”

Jilling abruptly turned and grabbed his friend, placing one hand over his mouth. “Hush, now! Do you want to get us both kicked out of the Department or locked up? Of course CBI is caused by Draco’s. All physical and mental maladies are caused by dark magic. Everybody knows that”

Graves was still and Jilling tentatively removed his hand in the hopes his friend would see the wisdom of remaining silent.

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Diversity Training: Tales From The Dystopia

mind control

Image: activistpost.com

The technicians carefully positioned the electrodes at specific locations of Ronnie’s freshly shaved head. The adhesive paste was cold like the room and she started to shiver.

It wasn’t just the temperature, though. Ronnie was terrified. She struggled against the straps restraining her to the chair.

“Now Ms. Pierson. This will go easier for you if you don’t resist.” Dr. Williams, head of the University’s Department of Diversity Instruction stood directly in front of Ronnie, her arms crossed. “This really is for your own good as well as for the sake of the other students here at Libra U.”

“When I came in here this morning…I thought you said this was going to be a workshop.” In spite of herself, in spite of not wanting to give in to these bastards, Ronnie was close to tears.

“It’s much more efficient to provide the corrective programming digitally, through direct cognitive induction, rather than have you attend a series of classes.” Williams leaned slightly toward Ronnie. “Externally presented materials can be ignored or minimized. When we introduce the correction electrically, it will become a part of you.”

Mind control. Ronnie had heard rumors, but she didn’t believe them…well, not until now.

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The Last Warrior

obi wan

Sir Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi from Star Wars (1977)

He was the last of his kind and he was old. Once, there had been millions like him, roaming the nation and the wild lands, defending the faith, upholding righteousness, protecting the innocent.

But that was a long time ago.

His companions were not defeated by the sword or the lance, but by indifference and betrayal. Betrayed by the very populace they so cherished.

The leaders became corrupt and arrogant, they paid off the scribes to write untruths, the town criers cried lies, even the ballads sung in the taverns became twisted and perverted. Truth became falsehoods and outrageous slander became truth.

The nation’s heroes were branded cowards while cowards became heroes.

One by one, his comrades fell, lost, devalued, and finally crushed.

The last warrior endured. He fought back. He stood his ground, even when everyone turned against him, even when those who had once stood beside him became his enemies in the name of their new “justice” and “righteousness.”

The old warrior could not even take solace in the faith for it too had been perverted. Long held truths and principles of righteousness, justice, and peace were turned upside down by clergy who, being all too human, learned to believe the lies they were told by corrupt Kings and Queens who controlled the scribes and who silenced the warriors.

The sermons by preachers of the faith now differed little, if at all, from the propaganda of the scribes and town criers, for the ever-enduring word of the Creator was “progressively” interpreted to mean what it had never meant before.

One by one the other warriors fell, or just gave up to an intractable enemy, the nation, the populace, their friends and neighbors. One by one door upon door was closed to the last warrior. He had few friends left, and even those were embarrassed to be seen in his company, lest they be accused by association, of what the scribes and holy men now called heresy.

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