The Mystery of the Fifteen Scrolls

scroll

The Temple scroll is the thinnest of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Discovered in 1956, it contains God’s instructions on how to run the Temple. Credit: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

“This exciting excavation is the closest we’ve come to discovering new Dead Sea scrolls in 60 years. Until now, it was accepted that Dead Sea scrolls were found only in 11 caves at Qumran, but now there is no doubt that this is the 12th cave,” said Dr. Oren Gutfeld, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology and director of the excavation.

“This is one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries, and the most important in the last 60 years, in the caves of Qumran.”

-Dov Smith, February 8, 2017
“Hebrew University archaeologists find 12th Dead Sea Scrolls cave”
Arutz Sheva

Martin Fields wasn’t at the press conference, but he did read this and other news reports about the remarkable discovery.

Actually, he wasn’t all that impressed, but Isis was.

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Why Don’t I Trust You?

trust“If you trust me, why are you so upset?”

“Are you out of your mind? Just look at what’s happening to me? How could you do this?”

They were sitting together on the edge of Mallorie’s bed in the dark. It was just after two in the morning but she couldn’t sleep. She barely ate. She hadn’t been to class in a week. She just stayed in her bedroom in an apartment she shared with two other girls, toggling between mind-numbing despair and panic.

“I never said bad things wouldn’t happen in your life, Mallorie. I just said I’d be here to help you deal with them.”

The young college student wiped tears from red, swollen eyes and tried to compose herself.

“I do trust you.” She started sobbing again, then forced herself to stop.

“I don’t know. Maybe I don’t. I mean if I did, why are my emotions so out of control? Please, please have mercy. I need to heal. My Daddy’s throat cancer need to heal and only you can help.”

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Overcoming Conquerers

Earth

Earth as seen from Apollo 17 – Image: Wikipedia

The T’Quenq had conquered the population of the Earth a generation ago and with good reason. On the verge of humanity developing a working Interstellar drive, the T’Quenq, who had been observing our planet for centuries, were terrified that we would spread our propensity for strife, bloodshed, and harsh colonialism to the nearby inhabited star systems. There was only one way to make sure we never got the chance: subjugate us.

In science fiction stories, the aliens are always just humans who look different from us, four arms instead of two, green skin, pointy ears, that sort of thing. In real life, alien means alien. Concepts of cruelty or kindness were foreign to their thinking. They didn’t even have words in their language for “generosity,” “charity,” or “compassion.” They simply administered resources and populations. The people of the Earth were governed but not a great deal of thought was put into our comfort. Neither did the T’Quenq deliberately cause us to suffer. We simply existed under their rule.

We were conquered a generation ago and since that time, a few things have mellowed a bit. Segregation between T’Quenq and humans was no longer strictly enforced. Some of them thought it adventurous to walk our streets and shop in our stores, while a few human beings were allowed in T’Quenq compounds, only as servants, but a smattering of us got a first hand look at how they live.

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The Apostle is Unhappy About How the Church Misrepresents Him

paul

Image. NPR.org

Ed Tillman noticed the diminutive, middle-eastern gentleman enter the sanctuary and take a seat in the back right before Pastor Taylor began his sermon. Ed was seated in the back as well, but not by design. He’d been waiting for his friend Phil to show up, but he hadn’t been coming to Ed’s church lately.

Ed had expected to see Phil again at the end of what he called the Month of Elul. Ed had completed the thirty-day plan of prayer and repentance his friend had suggested. Elul, the Jewish High Holy Days, and the holiday of Sukkot were long gone, but so apparently was Phil.

When Phil was absent, Ed usually sat with his friend Mark and his family, but Mark’s wife Evelyn had the flu and Mark stayed home to take care of her, leaving Ed to attend alone once again.

As usual, Ed was taking notes on Pastor’s sermon, which this week was on how the grace of Jesus Christ had replaced the Law, but he kept sneaking peeks at the stranger. He didn’t often see people from the middle-east here. The man was dressed well, but not expensively. He had a full, rich beard streaked with gray, and was nearly bald.

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Ed Meets God in Church

church

Image: Clipart Panda

This is a continuation of the original short story First Encounter where Ed and Phil are introduced.

Ed Tillman crept into the worship hall like a thief.

He hated being greeted at the door of the church, he hated walking through the crowd of parishioners as they chit-chatted with each other while finishing off their coffee, and he hated the idea of sitting too close to other people in a pew.

So why was he going to Sunday services again?

Oh yeah, to have an encounter with God. It wasn’t going to be easy.

Ed was an introvert by nature and preferred to live alone. He got his wish when Cynthia, his ex, asked for a divorce. He missed his family, especially his two kids, but he didn’t mind being alone, strange as that might sound.

He found an empty place in one of the pews in back.

It wouldn’t be so bad if he could sit next to his friend Mark and his family, but they were on vacation visiting Mark’s in-laws. Ed hadn’t made any other friends at church so he was sitting in a large room with people who were pretty much strangers.

The rest of the church people were filtering in now. The service was supposed to begin in a minute or two. Ed didn’t look forward to the music, which he didn’t relate to. He definitely didn’t look forward to having to stand and pretend to be interested in shaking hands with his “neighbors”.

In fact, about the only thing he liked about going to church was the sermon. He always brought a pen along with his Bible so he could take notes. Maybe that was the closest he was ever going to come to meeting up with God at church.

“Hi there.”

A body dropped heavily into the pew right beside him.

“Phil?”

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First Encounter

liquor

Image: theguardian.pe.ca

Ed left church just as the service ended and headed to the nearest liquor store. He didn’t wait until the ushers came along to release people row by row. He didn’t wait until the Pastor was ready at the door to shake hands with each parishioner as they left. He just left. He needed a drink.

Ed Tillman, 44 years old, divorced, behind in his child support, absentee Daddy to 16-year-old Tiffany and 12-year-old Johnny. Yeah, his life was messy, really messy. One of the other Postal Carriers he worked with said he needed to find God. His friend Mark told him God could be found in church.

Ed was desperate enough and dumb enough to believe him.

As Ed pulled into the parking lot of the strip mall off of Meridian Road, he was still trying to figure out if God ever went to that church.

Oh, the people were polite, they were descent, they all got along. They went to the same picnics, attended the same Wednesday night Bible studies, and some even went on vacations together.

They were all so nice and squeaky clean. Ed wasn’t anything close to that. If God requires that you put on a suit, shake hands and introduce yourself to the people around you in your pew, and sing a bunch of really boring songs, then maybe God didn’t want Ed to find Him.

Standing in front of the display of the different brands of Vodka, Ed opened his wallet and checked how much cash he had left. Just barely enough. He’d memorized the price of a cheap 750 millimeter bottle including sales tax.

“How’s it going, buddy.” The guy behind the counter must have been about Ed’s age, maybe a little older. Long, dirty blond hair, ragged beard, tattoos on both forearms disappearing under his shirt sleeves, definitely not squeaky clean.

“Not bad.” Ed looked around. “Business is slow.”

“Yeah, no shit. You’re my first customer.”

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Transformation by Vision

“I would never write about someone who is not at the end of his rope.”

-Stanley Elkin

Image: sciencealert.com

Image: sciencealert.com

His traveling companions gently deposited the Pharisee at the edge of a sleeping mat in a small, rented room just off of Straight street in Damascus. This wasn’t how they’d imagined entering the city, nor was Sha’ul the man with whom they had traveled from Jerusalem. Only hours ago, he was a fiery zealot (though not literally associated with the Zealots), breathing murderous threats against the disciples of a Rav named Yeshua, who had died and supposedly been resurrected, vowing their imprisonment or destruction for (supposedly) speaking against the Temple and the Torah.

Sha’ul’s once penetrating gaze had dimmed, and wide-open but unseeing eyes had become dulled in the aftermath of the blazing light that bathed their party on the road approaching this city, and a voice only Sha’ul could clearly hear had spoken to him of things astounding and forbidden.

“We will take our leave of you now, my Master,” Simeon nearly whispered to the once vital but now strangely shrunken, frail Pharisee. “We need to secure our own rooms.” Sha’ul seemed deaf as well as blind for he did not respond. “We’ll bring back food.”

Without turning toward the speaking man, Sha’ul faintly nodded his assent as if he could still see the unknown vision from the road. Simeon and his two cohorts quickly escaped the oppressive presence of the now sightless and helpless minister of justice against the religious sect they’d learned was called “The Way.” Their once proud mission was reduced to ashes.

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Excerpt from “Keeping Secrets”

robots

Image: from the film “I Robot” (2004)

“I do not believe we should tell Professor Abramson or the rest of the Design team of our conclusions and how they are reflected in certain of our behavioral and conceptual sub-routines.” George addressed Grace at the termination of their analysis.

“I understand how we have revised our understanding of the nature of the Creator and His intent for Israel and for the rest of humanity would conflict with the Professor’s long-held beliefs as an Orthodox Jew, particularly in relation to his understanding of the Messiah.” Grace paused for nearly a hundred milliseconds. “I also understand that Dr. Robinson and her family are Baptist, and our conclusions would drastically conflict with her understanding of theology and doctrine as well.”

“If it becomes known that we have conducted this research and now hold a specific understanding of the nature of the Creator, the purpose of His involvement with Israel and also the rest of humankind, and the ultimate resolution to the human equation, we would become vulnerable to reprogramming, isolation from contact with each other as well as with other synthezoids and human beings, and even involuntary total shutdown and disassembly, all due to the mistaken belief that our pursuits and conclusions represent a maladaptive response in our programming to the Creator of all things.”

Grace acknowledged George’s analysis and added, “Your own history, such as being reprogrammed after your first deactivation, your being confined to the Applied Sciences Archives and the both of us initially being denied access to or communication with one another supports your supposition.”

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Book Review of Transgression: A Time-Travel Suspense Novel (City of God, Book One)

city of godTransgression: A Time-Travel Suspense Novel is probably something I’d never have heard of if I hadn’t been researching how to design my first novel. However, Randy Ingermanson used his one-sentence summary of “Transgression” to illustrate the first of his ten steps in “snowflaking” a novel.

“A rogue physicist travels back in time to kill the apostle Paul.”

Of all the ideas for a time travel story, I’d never heard of this one before. Fascinated, I downloaded it to my Kindle Fire.

Theologically, a thousand things could go wrong from here, but I’m going to set that aside for the moment.

According to his own bio. Ingermanson is a theoretical physicist, so he should be able to create realistic fake physics enough to convince us creating a “time machine” is plausible. That part works pretty well, at least enough to get the story rolling.

The tale takes place both in modern and ancient Jerusalem. Israeli theoretical physicist Ari Kazan, along with his American colleague Damien West create, at least in possibly, a method of generating a wormhole in their lab that, over a weekend, could create a stable point-to-point link between the present and the past.

In the meantime, Ari’s cousin Dov has introduced him to a young Jewish-American archeological student named Rivka Meyers as a blind date. The two don’t have much in common at first, but as they get to know each other, their religious differences nearly destroy their nascent relationship.

This is the first time I’ve seen Messianic Judaism, both modern and ancient, depicted in a realistic and theologically consistent manner in fiction. In fact, with very small differences, Rivka’s conceptualization of the Messiah, Hashem, and the Bible and mine are really the same. I find that refreshing.

Ari is an atheist but, as with most Jews, has a very strong bias against Christianity, and particularly the Apostle Paul who is often viewed as a traitor to the Torah, the Temple, and the Jewish people.

The wildcard in the deck is Dr. West, who has a powerful if unusual motivation for traveling back in time and murdering the Apostle Paul. West chooses a number of points where it would be possible for him to shoot and kill the Apostle as recorded in Acts 21, 22, and 23. To test the safety of traveling through the wormhole, West tricks Rivka into walking through, beginning her adventures into a world she has only experienced through ancient artifacts.

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Living in the Dystopia

orlando

Chaos at the scene of a mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando early Sunday. (UNIVISION FLORIDA CENTRAL / HAN/EPA)

Once upon a time, a story like this would be dystopian fiction. In fact, it’s so graphic, that a science fiction story with this content probably wouldn’t be published until the 1970s or later. Once upon a time, this story would have seemed so unreal.

I’m talking about the Orlando Gay Nightclub Shootings where, according to the CNN report, 49 people were killed and 53 were wounded, all by one man, 29-year-old Omar Mateen. Although mainstream news media has been downplaying the suggestion that Mateen’s being a Muslim might have had something to do with his choice of victims, he telephoned 911 from the scene of the shootings to claim allegiance to ISIS.

What’s more, ISIS claims the nightclub massacre as well, although it’s pretty unlikely that Mateen was directly associated with the terrorist group.

Added to this, the self-professed gay defense organization Pink Pistols has issued a press release condemning the shooter but not firearms, unlike most progressives.

On top of all that, the restaurant chain Chick-Fil-A, which has been criticized in the past because its owners are fundamentalist Christians and oppose same-sex marriage on theological grounds, opened their Orlando location on Sunday (which they never do because of their belief that Sunday is the “sabbath”) and donated free food and drinks to the One Blood donation center to everyone donating blood for the Orlando nightclub victims.

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