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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The Last Rose of Babylon

last rose of babylon

Babylon Eyes Rose

The great Bavel had been destroyed long ago and it was time to leave its ruins. She had been hiding among the worshipers of the Church of the East because it was the only place left to go. Like her mother and her mother’s mother before her, Warda concealed the truth of her identity and her faith. Now that the Muslims had conquered this land, only a few Christians chose to remain.

She took her place in one of the wagons in the caravan with the other women. They would go north. India was supposed to be safe and the Church had established itself there.

The women and girls prattled on, some gossiping, others fretting about the future, would their daughters be able to find husbands where they were going and such.

She felt a little like Esther, wearing a mask to shroud the name Hadassah. Her mask was Warda, an Arabic name, because these Christians would never understand why a Jew would be a follower of the Christ and still see herself as a Jew.

It had been over 700 years ago that Rav Yeshua died his bloody, symbolic, sacrificial death, and then to fulfill the promise of the resurrection, rose again with the promise of the ultimate restoration of Israel. One day he would return as the King ,and the few Jewish disciples would no longer have to hide in the galut. Until then, Shoshana, the last rose of Babylon, her daughters, and her daughters’ daughters would remain in obscurity. Someday, like Hadassah, she would take off the mask and ask for the King’s favor in saving her people from the Muslims and the Christians alike.

I wrote this for the Sunday Writing Prompt “It’s All in the Title” challenge hosted at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. The idea is to select one or more titles from the ten listed and then write a poem, short story, or other creative work based on it. Obviously I chose The Last Rose of Babylon.

I looked up Babylon of course, with the idea of telling a tale of its destruction and someone leaving the great Bavel (the Hebrew name of the city) for the last time.

The Muslim’s conquered Mesopotamia in the mid-7th century CE and dissolved the Church of the East, marginalizing or destroying Christianity in that part of the world. Babylon had long since been destroyed at that time, but records mention a small village called Babel which may have been built on its ruins.

What we call Christianity today started out as a wholly Jewish religious movement, a strong variant of Pharisaism, with a group of thousands of Jews devoted to Rav Yeshua (Jesus Christ) as the promised Messiah. Even centuries after the Biblical period, it is thought that there were still some Jews who remained his disciples, living and practicing as Jews rather than “converting” to Christianity, which by that time, was made up largely of non-Jews who had completely re-interpreted the scriptures to eliminate Jewish faith and praxis.

In this case, my Shoshana (which means “rose” in Hebrew) is disguised as Warda in order to practice her faith, and yet she remains devoted to her Rav as a Jew, much like Hadassah hid the truth of her being Jewish behind the name of Esther.

I thought this a fitting story given that today is the Christian Easter in the Western world as well as the second day of Passover.

The Switchman’s Lantern

fairytale

Image: Google Images – labelled for re-use.

Josiah Bell was a switchman like his Pappy before him. He had a gimpy leg from an accident he had when he was six so he walked the tracks carrying his lantern in one hand and a long pole in the other. On top of the pole, he hung a red kerchief on a nail which he liked to wave at the engineers as they drove their enormous machines along the tracks.

He was working the yards in Chicago and it was damn early in the morning and cold. He done heard on the radio what those Hitler and Mussolini fellas was doing and how them Germans sent their army into peaceful Denmark and Norway. Josiah was a peaceful man and a simple one but he didn’t take to no bullies. He’d been bullied plenty as a child because of his bum leg. A lot of folks wanted America to stay out of that mess in Europe and maybe they were right, but then who was gonna take care of those bullies?

The 3:10 from Omaha was just coming up to his switch. Josiah set down his pole and grasped the metal bar and with a practiced hand and steely sinews, pulled, switching the course of the train from the main line to the freight yards. Then he stood, putting most of weight on his good leg and waved his lantern. No use waving the kerchief on the pole, too dark to see it.

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Where the Hell am I?

lucifer

Actor Tom Ellis as “Lucifer”. © Tricia Helfer. Found at Buzzymag.com

“Welcome to Hell, Daniel, where we’ll try to make your stay as uncomfortable as possible.”

“Wait. What? Where am I? Who are you and what happened to me?”

“There, there dear Daniel. I’ll try to explain.”

From Daniel Katz’s point of view, he was standing in a large, empty white room in front of a tall, charming fellow with a British accent. The man wore a tailored black suit, his dark gray shirt open at the collar, black hair, and deep brown eyes which seemed to pick up a bit of red from time to time.

“You see, you died.”

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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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Book Review of “God, Robot”

god, robotI promised Anthony Marchetta that I’d write a review on Amazon when I finished reading his book God, Robot. It went online yesterday. You can find it here.

However, for your convenience, I’ve reproduced my review below. Enjoy.

I feel a little like I’m proverbially biting the hand that has fed me. I heard about “God, Robot” several weeks ago from a friend of mine and was intrigued by the concept. After a bit of “Googling,” I found Anthony Marchetta’s blog. Before reading and reviewing his book, I wanted to take a crack at writing my own story based rather loosely on his concept of robots being programmed with the “two greatest commandments” rather than Asimov’s three laws.

With Mr. Marchetta’s permission, I have used his base concept to write and publish two short stories on my own blog and I’m currently working on a third. Now that I’ve finished his book, I’m here to write my review.

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