The Fall – A Novel (Introduction)

April 2, 2015 Leave a comment

Below is my beginning of a work that has been in my head for sometime – its unedited, so please forgive all the grammar issues (and for those asking, I already have an editor). It definitely a work in progress… a huge work and a huge progress, but with this one, I actually plan on finishing it. I edited some of the language so it would be more PG (and my family members wont yell at me), however the final product will not have such edits. Please feel free to share your thoughts.


The Fall

Prologue

A lush, green world that was, and never would be again, has become a fading memory of the old, told through stories to the young. Like a religious pilgrimage through time, the old ones, the ones who came before the Fall, would tell their diatribe to a younger generation who would hang on every word like sap used to hang on a tree. Grand, decadent buildings no longer were, left only as rotted husks to be venerated as monuments to gods that no longer existed, yet, the memory of their creation still lingered in the memory of a few and the tales of the many. To say humanity was finished, to say that the race known has human had been completed, would be a slap in the face of evolutionary propaganda, and yet, here we are, at the precipice of a status quo that will longer hold water in the face of a hurricane.

The Fall came as night fell on the East Coast of what was then the United States, and it came suddenly. For most, it was like their previous life had been a dream, for a few, the witness of such an even forever shook their own reality, they could not process what had been before nor what was to come. Human reason could not explain the inexplicable, the inherent doom without a warning sound, and therefore the ones who remained had only a fading memory of yesterday, and a certain dread of tomorrow. Even those whose lives were not touched by technological advancement of any kind were effected, and the infection of despair reached every corner of a corner less globe. The old gods had been replaced by what was to be the Cloud, a scion of space, a bender of reality. Not religious in nature, its force was felt by everyone who gazed upon it, and its grasp was like a shackle.

No one truly new what happened, or even what it was, but the weight it placed on the world was heavy. Like an asthma victim trying to catch just one more breath, this world was held in a vice unknown to its inhabitants. The things of the past have now faded, what is to be is the only matter that remains.

It had been over one hundred years since the Cloud appeared in the skies. Governments and society, not having an answer, had fallen. Rising in their place was hovels of humanity, each creating their own culture that had broken fragments from the past, and hardened together by the resilience of existence. No one knows what tomorrow will bring, we don’t even know of today.

“Time, time!” the internal alarm repeats. “Awaken, awaken!” the internal voice cries out.

Dustin sat alone, as he usually did, in the hot afternoon sun in a desert with no shade to be seen. He dreamed of stories that his grandfather used to tell him. Of large cities, glorious buildings, of endless supplies of water, of things completely out of his reach. He reached for his canteen, forgetting it was empty of water, and attempted to take a swig, receiving only a suckling of air. He swore, throwing the metal container in front of him, frustratingly reminding himself that it was his only canteen. Slowly, he rose to his feet to get it, and as he reached out his hand to grasp the now sun heated container, he saw the Cloud in the distance.

Dustin was a young man, vain, only in his attempts to amount to anything more then what he was, a failed farmer, in a land where nothing but dirt and dirtweed grew. His father had settled on this land many years before when Dustin was a baby. Bringing his grandfather and his sister with him, Dustin’s father toiled simply for existence, simply to survive. Knowing what had come before, and knowing that he would never see the things his own father had talked about, Dustin’s father through away all hope and dreams of the past life, and dictated that any talk of those things that had come before where never discussed. Punishment for even mentioning a thought of tall buildings and green grass was a swift slap to the face, or even worse. The only person to be able to get away with such banter was Dustin’s grandfather, and even then, he would only talk of such things after taking one too many sips of moon water, his father’s special drink made from dirtweed.

After his grandfather had died, he would often sit alone, his mind wandering to fantastical places he knew he would, never could, visit. He would dream in silence of a bygone time where metal creatures roamed streets of flattened, smooth rock, a place where shade was easy to find. The only thing he could find where he existed was the damnable sun and its unwavering heat. Before he died, Justin asked his grandfather what became of such glorious things, and his reply, though still and quiet in his final breathes, was firm and full of dread. “We came to the end of a precipice, a place where we, as men, had achieved greatness, and because of our own vanity and lust for knowledge and the power that comes with it, we fell.” Dustin often pondered on the meaning of this as well, but he had no idea what his grandfather meant, and so he continued to steal away and sit in the hot sun.

“Dustin,” his father called, “Dustin!” “Coming,” he responded. His father was always calling him. Do this or do that, this was the way Dustin’s life went. It was only when he was alone did Dustin really feel alive – when he could dream and imagine. Of course, his father thought he went off by himself way too often, and maybe he did, but he did not worry about it too much. He thought his father was too hard on him, pushed him too much. On the other hand, his father thought Dustin was simply too lazy, so he focused on making a man out of him. “One day,” his father thought, “One day he’ll get it, one day he will understand.”

“I need you to go over to the Hollerman’s place, they have a boull I need ya to grab. Take the carts and grab ‘em.” “Yes sir,” Dustin replied, and he went to fetch the carts. Dustin didn’t mind going to the Hollerman’s place, he would get to see Rachel, but he hated boulls. Too big, too bulky, mean as hell. His grandfather had loved to eat the meat of a boull, told him it reminded him of when he was a young man and he would go out with his own parents. After seeing his father slaughter one, with all of the blood and insides all over the place, Dustin did not quite understand the desire to eat such a thing. Yet, he knew his father had already paid for it with the meager amount of crops he could grow, so therefore he set out to grab the beast from the Hollerman’s. On the bright side, they would know he was coming, and Alana Hollerman, Rachel’s mother, would prepare his favorite soup, dustweed and cayroot. Plus, he would get to see Rachel.

As he left, with the carts trailing behind his horse, he turned back to see his father and his home. He was happy to be going to the Hollerman’s, but he dreaded having to come home. He dreamed that one day he would never have to see that vision again.

The Cloud sits in silence, a pillar in the sky. Silence drifts within the heart of its darkness, yet nothing can penetrate its abode. Many look upon the shape, like a wisp upon the water, yet none knew its nature, at least none that had survived.

Rachel looked out towards the Cloud, and she was silently happy. Dustin would come today for the boull, she would get to see him, and knowing how her mother favored him, he would also stay for dinner. Slightly obese as a child, Rachel had developed into a fit young woman, with red hair and a slight tan from the sun, her crystal green eyes would catch any light that caught her dimple laden face. Her father had died three summers before, so it was just her mother and her two older brothers who ran the farmstead. She knew that Mr. Tannes had paid her mother for the boull, but wondered what the exact price he had demanded. She knew that Dustin’s father fancied her mother, most men did that came around from time to time, but Mr. Tannes seemed much more overt then the others. He seemed to be a cruel man, yet she knew that this had to be in part because of the lifestyle in which they lived. Life was hard for all since what was known as the Fall, the day the Cloud came to rest over the land. So she did not totally blame Mr. Tannes for being the ass of a man she thought he was, just mostly. Dustin, she thought, was just like his grandfather. Kind, gentle, and of course handsome, with his rugged blonde hair, made even more so by his many hours of toiling under the sun – she could close her eyes and see him sweating right now, only to turn towards her with his boyish blue eyes. But enough of that, she had to prepare the house for a guest, a guest who she not only could not wait to see, but one she wanted to impress.

Rachel’s mother would tell her stories that he own mother and grandmother had passed on to her. How before the Cloud there was great cities and great nations of people, ruled by laws and morality. A place where everyone seemed to be happier, a place far better them where they found themselves now. She could not imagine it, to be honest. She could only see the look in her father’s eyes as he passed away from the sickness that had claimed so many in the mall area around her. She could only close her eyes and see the dust and the suffocating heat that only let up just enough for them to barely get by. She did often wonder how they got here. What had happened so many years ago? Her grandmother said man cursed himself. “He ate the apple,” she would always say. Rachel had no idea what that meant, she had never seen an apple to begin with, except in a color drawing from a long faded book page. Her mother told a different slightly different story, one she must have learned from her daddy. “One day,” she said, “all men looked to the sky and the rain fell.” “The crops failed, the lakes dried up,” she continued, “and man turned on man, like never before, then came the sleep.” Her mother would tell her nothing more than that, she would not answer any of her questions, and she had many. What is the Cloud, what was the sleep? Her mother would only shake her head and smile, telling her to put it out of her head. So did, or at least tried, but it always seemed to creep back into her thoughts.

Her brothers, Jacob and Phillip, had already prepared the boull for its departure to the Tannes’ homestead, and they had already cleaned up for Dustin’s arrival. They did not particularly like or dislike him, but they knew their mother did like him, so the attempted to treat him as well as they could, with a little abuse on the side. Dustin never seemed to care too much, so she did want to encourage them more by saying anything. Her mother’s stew of dirtweed and cayroot, Dustin’s favorite, was almost complete, so she knew he would be arriving soon. “Someday,” she thought, “He would come whisk her away, and take her to a better place.” She knew this was not really possible, the better place part anyways, but she still dreamed. As she looked out the dirt plated window, she could see him coming down the trail and her heart leaped, and a smile crept to her face. She quickly put her working apron away, checked her hair in the mirror and walked outside to the porch.

Dustin saw Rachel standing on the porch, and he smiled. No matter how much bullshit he had to put up with from his father, and no matter how much he hated having to transport a boull from anywhere to anywhere, seeing Rachel’s green eyes made it all worth it. He wondered if one day they would be together. “Of course,” he said to himself under his breath, “he was the only suitable man her age around.” Yet, it did not stop him from fearing some older fool would steal her away. As he got closer to the house, he heard a crack in the distance, and a slight rumble under his feet. He thought to himself, “That’s odd… I wonder….” As he thought, the ground beneath him seemed to heave up and down, and then back up again. His two carts were thrown to gods know where, and he found himself falling from the sky towards the hard dirt. As he was falling, he could have sworn he heard Rachel scream for help. Suddenly the ground was upon him, and darkness invaded his mind.

Lightning crashes, thunder rolls, the Cloud is a fire in the sky of day. The Children of the Rain have roused from their slumber, and have awoken to the fields of their harvest.

The entire earth shook, as lightning left the Cloud and penetrated the ground, to what felt like the core itself. Shackles of metal sprang forth from its belly and took hold like roots of a tree. Like sirens from a rocky island in the see, a song rose up from the heart of the Cloud, and then, the sound of silence.

Chapter One

“Its @#$#@# itself!” Exclaimed Fiona. “The @#$damned thing @#$#@# itself, and we have no idea why.” Shaking her head, she turned away from the monitor to see Kale looking up at her in astonishment. “I aint never seen nothing like it,” he said, “It’s like the whole sky just came down.” Fiona was too excited, or was it scared, to correct Kale’s English. She had been trying for what seemed like an eternity to get him to talk right, and even though it was a lost cause, she tried, if only because she cared about him. Fiona was new at the analyst station in New Britain, only on the job for two weeks, and though she had been assured nothing would happen, nothing ever happens, she just knew something would. As she peered back at her monitor, she realized her greatest fear had happened, something HAD happened, and it had happened on her watch.

New Britain was not in the old Britain, it wasn’t even in the old Europe. Fiona’s dad had told her that long ago, before he was even born, this place was called New England. Once the Cloud came and brought the Fall, or was it the Fall bringing the Cloud, she didn’t know, those who had survived had decided to rename themselves. Partly to rid themselves of their past, in case there was something there that had caused the catastrophe, but mainly because the old way no longer existed. Yet, even in this, they had used what they knew, and dubbed themselves the New Britain. Apparently, at some point in history, this place was known for its liberal way of thinking, its grand societal ideas. Now, it felt like a hub for illiterate inbreeds who only cared about themselves and had no passion for anything beyond where they were. Fiona only new how to read the old speak because her father’s parents had been teachers of some sort, at a large facility where young people came to learn about their world. In many ways, she felt like she was continuing that tradition with Kale, even though it never seemed to catch root in his mind.

She had to tell the Marshall, but what to tell him? Fiona knew that everyone had felt the tremor, she didn’t need a spike on a flat monitor to prove it happened. Anyone looking outside would have seen the cloud descend to God know where, again, unless the Marshall was sitting in a bunker with plugs in his ears, he would already know what is going on, at least as much as she did. Yes, protocol said, demanded, that she report, but report what? Slowly, she slid from her chair and turned toward the hallway leading to the Marshall’s office. “This should be interesting,” she thought.

The office the Marshall kept was pretty bare, save for a faded picture of his mother that sat on a desk, and his chair. He knew many of the people in his care thought him to be rich because he had what they called a “realpaint” of a person, and though it bothered him a little, he had learned to use the persona in his favor. Miles Fabian was born seventeen years after the Fall. He was the youngest of eight children, his mother being forty-six when she bore him, and he was their third child after the Cloud had appeared in the morning sky. His parents had been wealthy before that day, and because his father’s wealth came from being “self-made,” and not just money, his father was able to keep his wits, and influence, about him better than most. Because of this, though technically poor now and simply a survivor like the rest, he held the respect of those around him. Miles’ father was a founder of New Britain, and along with the rest of those who were considered founders, ensured that their children would carry on the legacy they had created by dynastic means. This did not mean Miles Fabian was a stuck up tyrant, on the contrary, he loved the people he felt like he served, but he also knew that persona was everything, and for the sake of keeping the rule of law and order, he didn’t attempt dissuade any notions of his potential wrath.

He stared out his window. He hadn’t felt a tremor like that in years, decades, and even then it wasn’t this bad. Beyond the worry of the tremor, the Cloud, the ever present form of atmosphere that could always be seen in the distance towards the western horizon, was gone. He knew that soon enough, whoever was on watch duty would be coming up to tell him that something had happened. “No #$@!,” he said to himself, “If you didn’t feel that you probably didn’t have breath in you.” Miles always worried about what was next, but he had always found a way to keep everything locked away in his head, letting those around him figure out whatever it was that needed figuring out. Today, he realized as he turned around, no one would be able to figure this out, and they would come to him for answers, answers he didn’t have. Or did he? He had almost seen the Fall, missing out by only seventeen years or so. He had brothers and a sister who actually remembered it, using their sticks of color to draw crude and scary pictures. Those drawings never made any sense, mainly because his parents, who for whatever reason had kept them around, told him they were just pictures his sibling had made when they were younger, and didn’t mean anything. Two things weighed on him, first, the fact that his parents had kept the pictures, the second was the fact his siblings only vaguely remembered actually making the colored drawings. It didn’t matter of course, all but one of his siblings was dead, and Martha had been born after the Fall. She had lost her mind at any rate, so again, what did he really know?

As he looked up, he saw Fiona standing there, appearing extremely nervous. “Yes,” he thought, “It would be Fiona who was on duty, the poor girl.” He liked Fiona, she was, well, almost like a granddaughter. If her grandparents and parents would not have been so snooty, they too would have been “founders,” but as it was, those looking and trying to survive could have cared less about having proper diction, they needed to know how to live, and that was that. He knew he should ease her mind, tell her that he had seen whatever it was he had seen, but a part of him wanted to make sure she could handle her new found position and have the balls to report what she could, even knowing that she didn’t really know anything. He was saved, or rather she was, by Kale, the idiot who only had anything in life because of his parent’s position, again, awarded because of their own parents. “Sir, it fu—,” Kale began. “Yes, I know, I saw… and I assume so did everyone else within walking distance to a window, and yes, I felt it too, as I’m sure everyone else did as well,” Said the Miles. Fiona replied, “Do you know what it is, um, sir?” “No, but I have an idea, you should probably call the council together, I’d better say something.” Fiona answered the Marshall’s request, “Yes sir, right away.”

As Fiona and Kale turned to leave, for a moment he thought back to one picture that his brother had drawn that really stood out. A band of smoke sitting on a desert floor with an open door leading to a stairway. The stairway was full of something, something not quite coherent. As a shiver of cold ran down his spine, he tried unsuccessfully to rid his brain of the path his mind was taking him.

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection – Review (in progress)

March 30, 2015 1 comment

I love video games – I love playing them, reading about them and talking about them. So to lighten the mood of the blog, I have decided to write a review of one I am playing right now – Borderlands: The Handsome Collection. (BL:THC)

BL:THC consists of two games, Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Both games are first person shooters made in the style of a role playing game. Meaning, like most games you level up, get better gear, complete missions, but you also have to craft your character – of which there are many – with skills as you level. This enables you to craft your character the way you see fit to match your playing style. For the uninitiated, it is like Call of Duty meet Elder Scrolls… or, as many of my friends have pointed out, everything Destiny should or could have been (ironic, since Borderlands 2 came out way before Destiny). For the initiated, it is a space opera shooter that plays as an RPG.

Borderlands 2 came out in 2012, while the Pre-Sequel came out in 2014, so there are plenty of reviews already for these tow games, and of course, many comparison reviews for BL:THC on PS/XBox One versus their counterparts on old-generation consoles. For me, however, this is my first real experience with the series and these games – I did play the original Borderlands back in the day for s brief time, and my second experience with first person shooters in a long while, my first being Destiny. Many of these comparisons focus on frame rates and the newer graphics, but having no previous experience, I don’t really care, what I care about is the game play and the fun factor.

As a prelude, this game is rated Mature, and it is for a reason. It is bloody, vulgar and at times, offensive. It is crude and unapologetic, and honestly, I like it. No, I can’t play this game in front of my kids, well, I could, but at the very least if I do, I wear my headphones. This being said, it is no more violent then most violent video games, and it certainly isn’t Mortal Kombat, more Elder Scrolls meets guns – and just a little more crude.

The number one thing I take away from Borderlands is that it doesn’t matter. Nothing does. If I die, it doesn’t matter – I can still achieve my objective, it will just cost me more in game money. If I loot, it doesn’t matter, I can still get the equipment that I need. If I didn’t complete every side quest, though it may be blocked at the moment, it doesn’t matter, I can always come back, or join a friend and do it on theirs – it still counts on mine. In the end, nothing matters.

The whole point is to blow stuff up. Yes, kill bad guys and blow stuff up, and again, nothing else matters. As long as you do this, you will eventually achieve your objective. The other point is to loot, and even if you miss a million crates to loot, there are a million more. Blow stuff up and loot, I like that, its, well, peaceful. What I mean is, it isn’t nerve racking, I don’t get nervous going into a boss fight, like I might do say in Destiny, or Elder Scrolls Online. If I die, someone will be there to pick me up, or, I just end up paying the Hyperion Corporation to be rematerialized, again, it doesn’t matter, I will achieve my objective, or dye (again and again) trying.

For blowing stuff up, we go back to loot. The game – either one – gives me a million different option on how I can blow up any one of a million different things. There are a ton of different weapons, and likewise, shields, character mods, character relics and the like to get me where I’m going and to help me, well, blow stuff up, and in turn, loot more. I love the range of options these two games give me. I don’t have to buy a weapon to suit my playing style, I will find one, and even if I don’t, yes, I can buy one – finding plenty of money along the way. Since it play like an RPG, I have options of shields (armor) – I can choose a high capacity shield, which may effect my health, or a lower capacity shield which absorbs me… and so one and so on. On top of all of this, my character (again, of which there are several) come packed with certain skill sets in which I can place skill points to give me certain advantages – again, picking ones to suit my playing style.

All in all, these two games blend the FPS and the RPG experience very well – we have good shooting mechanics, good character mechanics and then, as always, there is the loot. Lastly, the questing is very progressive, and even with the large amount of side quests, I have not felt like I was stuck in one spot for too long. For this alone, if you like FPS and RPGs, this is a great collection for you. In addition of the stock games though, you also get all of the DLC for Borderlands 2 and the new DLC (featuring Claptrap’s mind) for the Pre-Sequel. On top of this, it is for the next-gen/now-gen consoles of Playstation 4 and XBox One.

Graphically, though I haven’t played the games on previous generation consoles, I am impressed with the visuals for both games on the new consoles. I play on PS4, so I can’t speak of the Xbox, but I haven’t had any issues on the PS4, even playing with a full compliment of 4 players online. To me, the scenery is gorgeous – its not realistic, but it isn’t supposed to be. It is supposed to be cartoonish/anime-like, and it shows very well. Its vibrant, in all ways, and I like that. Again, I can’t speak of comparisons, but from what I seeo n the PS4, it has been remastered very well. I can’t speak of frame rates or whatever, but I have played a lot of video games, and I really like how this looks.

Lastly, the story itself feels like an RPG. There are plenty of characters which, once you get past their crudeness, you actually do “care” about – unlike Destiny which thrusts you into a galaxy where there is story potential and falls flat on it face, Borderlands gives you a planet, a moon and a station in which a space opera unfolds.

While playing, I almost felt like I was in a Ben Bova novel of the Grand Tour series – there is corruption, violence, sex and heroes which aren’t antiheroes but aren’t good guys either – yet, you can feel an empathy for them (or not). There are many locales to visit, many characters to meet, and get to know and they all have a story. I found myself wanting to find out more and more, to get to get to the root of all the evil going on, I want to get to Handsome Jack and, well, blow him up. On the flip side, however, as long as there is loot and stuff to blow up along the way, you could care less, because in the end it doesn’t really matter.

Rating: A+ (97.786)

(Note: I have played Borderlands 2 mostly, only briefly play the Pre-Sequel, if anything changes on my impressions, I’ll let you know – I don’t apologize for not being technical, but honestly, as long as I like the way it looks and plays, its good enough for me… and it doesn’t really matter anyways.)

The Trashing of the Vanities

March 19, 2015 1 comment

Five hundred and eighteen years ago, on February 7, 1497, a Dominican priest named Savonarola, conducted the “Bonfire of the Vanities” in Florence, Italy to destroy what he called the excesses of humanity – in other words, objects such as books, art and the like that did not meet with the lifestyle of poverty and righteousness of the Christian lifestyle as he saw it. Ironically, around this time, the civilization of in the West – as in Europe – was rediscovering ancient philosophy, mythology and culture from Greece, Egypt and beyond, which had been destroyed by the barbarians which had taken control of Europe close to a thousand years before. For Savonarola, it seems, he preferred the Dark Ages, where man was easily controlled and manipulated, as opposed the Renaissance, where man became enlightened. Today, we are blessed to beyond beyond such trivial matters in regards to having books and art, or so it seems.

I do not have all the facts, nor do I have some inside source of information – I am no journalist, yet I have word of mouth, and in this case my wife and friends for fountains of information. In Providence, RI, and now it appears beyond in other Rhode Island towns, we have a case where literature is literally going to be thrown away because it has become irrelevant. The other night my wife came home, from our local neighborhood library, which is part of the greater Providence Community Library system, which in turn, part of the Ocean State Library system, saying they are getting ready to throw away books. I looked at her in mild shock, and she said, “Yeah, everybook that has not been check out in three years, they are going to throw away.” Again, I was shocked. I assume they will put some of these books on the “free table,” where interested people can take these books home, but I know, at least in my own neighborhood library, they will not all fit. And throw away! Not try to give them all away, or announce it, or even try to sell them for much needed money (I assume they need money, they advertise how to support your library), but throw them away.

I realize this is not as grand as Florence or barbarians invading, but to throw away books, any books, when the whole purpose of libraries is to be a haven for books and a resource for the public, to me, is an outage. Also, we are not just talking “irrelevant” books, but books from authors such as Anne Rice – an author still publishing award winning best sellers today – and Tolkien, which gave us classics like “The Hobbit” and the “Lord of the Ring” trilogy. Even so, if these authors were not on there, if it was just books on certain American cultures, or a cookbook, it is still throwing literature away, throwing away a resource that for many may never be available again. These are not just books, but they are historical pieces of art that are worth more then throwing in the dumpster.

Maybe it is not a big deal, maybe I am over reaching in saying it is disgraceful, however, I was taught a reverence for the written word that will not allow me to remain silent and just shocked within. What happens when a young man or woman, needing to reference Tolkien, can now only find his popular books at the library, instead of being able to dig deeper. What happens when someone has read all of Anne Rice’s novels, except that elusive one no longer sold on Amazon.com, but is stuck, because the local library threw it away. Well, that someone want find it in a library in Providence, and apparently now in the library in Newport, RI. I do not presume that these libraries are being overtly selective, and I am sure they have their own “very good” reasons for this purge of literature, I cannot find any value in any excuse.

As a former (and still lover) of history and culture, the irrelevant status given to books that simply have not been checked out over a three year time period is disgusting to me, it infuriates me that an institution can simply mark something as worthless because it has passed too much time sitting in one spot. Popularity, should not be the judge of literature, if it is, we stand to lose all but what is truly vain.

Happy Birthday Dad

March 18, 2015 1 comment
The Most Rev. John W. Holloway I, D.D.

The Most Rev. John W. Holloway I, D.D.

If my father was correct in his beliefs, then right now he is celebrating his 61st birthday with other saints and angels in Heaven. Of course, I seriously doubt they use earth years to tell time, but, in earth years, it is his 61st birthday today, March 18, 2015. Most people knew my father as a pastor, or later as a priest and bishop in the Charismatic Episcopal Church, I knew him simply as Daddy.

Yes, religion and Christianity played huge parts in our families life growing up, and still does today. Church was life… not going to church, we lived it, every day it seemed, especially once my dad took on the responsibilities of a bishop. But church did not totally define my dad, at least not to me, and I have many things, beyond my faith, to thank my dad for.

#1: Science Fiction

Star Trek and Star Wars… hell, anything with “star” in the title… Stargate, Battlestar Galatica… familiar things on T.V. Without a doubt, I’d probably still love all of these without my dad watching these things and sharing them with me, however, my dad loved science fiction and he passed that love on to me. My own children now are getting heavy doses of the same stuff. They watched (well, Katherine, John and Karl) the majority of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis with me… and they love “Captain Carter” and “Teyla.” They adore Star Wars – they have seen all six movies, mroe then once, and watched the Clone Wars cartoons… remember, the oldest, Katherine, is only 5. The boys have light sabers and pretend to be Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi. The glue there eyes to the T.V. if Star Trek comes on, or anything with ships, aliens and weird guns. Don’t worry, I haven’t exposed them to the reboot of Battlestar Galitica yet… not because it is too violent of course, but because its not longer on Amazon Prime :(. Like with my kids… where my wife has to be my “check” with what Ilet my own kids watch, my dad was the same way (He took me to see Terminator 2 in the theater… I was 10 years old).

#2: Sports

I could go on and on on how my dad pushed sports, particularly baseball, but then you might wonder how I came to love baseball and other sports. My dad followed the Atlanta Braves – yes, even when they sucked – like a religion. He had calendars of the schedule, had all the stats, etc, etc. He also loved University of Georgia football – and when both me and my brother Jake became “Dawgs” ourselves, he was very proud. He loved to watch golf and tennis… and though, personally, I have a hard time watching tennis, because I watched so much gold with my dad, especially events like the Masters, and the British Open, I can sit for a weekend and watch golf. With my kids, its racing – they love cars and things that go fast, and on Sunday afternoons, if I turn the race on, my three oldest will sit there, just like with SciFi, glued to the screen.  Baseball and football are to boring for them (ironic, I know), but I am sure they will get there in time. My dad gave me a love of sports, and that love, like with science fiction, is being passed on to his grandchildren.

#3: Video Games

People who really knew my dad knew he liked to play video games, specifically the role playing game series Final Fantasy – they only one he never did actually beat was Final Fantasy 12, which he restarted twice 9from the end of the game) so he could get the Zephyr Spear… yes, my father was a dedicated and patient man when it came to his Final Fantasy. One of my favorite picture of my dad is of him sitting in his chair with a Playstation 2 controller in his hands. I would sit for hours, sometimes into the wee hours of the night on weekends, watching him play games like Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Illusion of Gaia, and Dragon Warrior/Quest, reading the guides for him, telling him where to go, and simply just watching him play. In turn, he’d watch me play Legend of Zelda, sports video games, and also the RPGs that he loved to play as well, giving me advice, and telling me where to go. To this day, i still buy every Final Fantasy game that comes out (getting one today actually FF-Type-0), because I know that there is a chance my dad would as well. I have to make sure I get the collectors editions too… and now that I know how expensive those things are, I realize my dad must have really, really liked these games, and not just the games, but the artwork and all involved as well, because he typically got the collectors edition games and guides as well. His grandkids here in Rhode Island love video games as well… from watching me play Final Fantasy – or as Katherine calls it, the “Chocobo Game” – you would have to know Final Fantasy, to playing the original Super Mario Bros. game (yes the original) – well, at least just jumping up and down and running to the first hole after getting past the Goombas jsut to fall in. John would fall asleep watching me play Destiny – much to the disapproval of my wife – and when I still had to “farm” for materials in the game, all my kids would point out they would see “spinmetal” or “spirit bloom” on the screen. Yes mom, they play the “Putty Game,” though they still haven’t figured out the controls quite yet :). Again, another thing my dad gave me a love for which I love to pass on to my children.

There are many other things my dad gave me love for, but I think the most important thing to me is that he didn’t just give the love for these things to me, its that I get to pass these things on to my own children, and I understand why my dad enjoyed sharing these things with me and my brothers (and sister) so much. Its a generational thing… and its a daddy thing. My father was a great man, a very smart and wise man, and he is remembered for a lot of things. From his two hour long sermons, for his love of God and church, for his fast driving (he passed that to me as well), for his smile and his laugh (yep, I got that as well, and I think John II has it too), but its the things that he shared with just us and me that I remember and miss the most. I wish I could have seen the latest Star Trek with him, and I wish he would be around to see Star Wars in December. I wish I could call him and ask him how he thinks the Braves will do this year, or what he thinks about the new Final Fantasy – and though he isn’t her in the physical to see or play, I know he is still in my heart and still with me. I can see him in my children, and I can’t wait to continue to share his love, and now my love, for these things with them.

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Jesus Was Not Rich

March 13, 2015 Leave a comment

Jesus wasn’t okay with believers in Him being rich, in fact, he said if you wanted to be saved, sell all your worldly possessions, give the proceeds to the poor, and follow Him. He threw out the money changers in the Temple because they were ripping the Jews off for items they had to have according to their beliefs. Jesus Himself was not rich, nor did He have money, in fact his family was so poor they couldn’t afford to give him a proper burial. Beyond Jesus, all of his disciples who came the apostles all walked a very poor life, totally dependent on those they met. So did the early Church fathers… in fact, many spoke against being rich, as if greed was not simply enough, but being rich WAS being greedy – For holding on to money (the only way to get worldy rich) was to deny it to ones brother or sister, harkens back to Jesus when he spoke of those who gave to Him, but not directly to Him, and to those who refused to give to Him by not giving to those in need. It wasn’t until Constantine the Great, by using Christianity for his own ends to gain political power, “imperialised” that money, or power even, became an issue. Money always corrupts, which in turn means wordly wealth always corrupt. It makes men above other men, even if they don’t mean to be. To have is to deny to another. If one is blessed to be prosperous in some way, that blessing is given as a means to enable others, but in the end, Jesus Himself said blessed are the poor, not once did he say, “blessed are the rich.” No one needs to live beyond their means, nor does anyone truly need to have means beyond one another. Capitalism is an oppression that for seem reason a large part of Christians have embraced when all it does is cause us to be more and more seperate from one another. Anyone who believes capitalism is a gift from God, or even God’s economic plan, is ignorant, and obviously has not read the New Testament, which had believers share everything in common so no one lacked for anything. In today’s “church,” there are far too many people who lack, and there are too many people who have way more then they need. Jesus said that the poor will always be with us, true, but that is more of a service to us then a problem, for it gives those of us who are not poor to help those in need, thus fulfilling our own faith in action rather then just saying we believe. However, instead of grasping this as a matter of faith, we have shunned the whole, and taken a part as a token, to make it appear that we really care, when more often then not we don’t. The apostles did not sell the Gospel, nor did they charge admission, nor was there a charge to download the newest epistle, rather, they sent letters, to their own detriment, to cities where believers gathered and hung on everything these men of God wrote and said. They didn’t travel to and fro in luxurious caravans, they went, many times in chains, with only the clothes (and sometimes the lack of clothes) on their back. They didn’t ask for the latest camel model with the deluxe blue-ray player or gps because they needed to reach people across the known world, they went simply by faith. When Paul talks of running the race, he is reminding his followers, and himself, of the life he left behind – the life of a scholar and warrior, a life of wealth and probably fame, for a life of poverty and certain death. Paul didn’t set up a tent and sell his many letters, saying, “You want to be prosperous, you better buy my book!” Instead, he freely gave his word to all who would hear, and to many who wouldn’t. If the apostles were alive today, they would not be writing books to sell, they would be bloggers, spreading their message for free. If we want to reach the poor, we must be like the poor, and we must be able to share in their poverty, otherwise we will be just another charity giving them a handout. They will appreciate it, sure, but we will never truly reach them. If we want to reach the rich, we need to be their exact opposite, and not only that, but be happy and so satisfied in our poverty, that our love and happiness shines through all of the apparent problems we have. We are told, do not lay up riches on earth, for they are physical and will pass away, but lay up riches in heaven. It is not enough for us to be good people, to give a helping hand, or to speak a good message, we must live the life Christ intended for us. Being good, giving a hand, speaking the gospel is not enough, we must live it. If we are to be poor in spirit, which is to allow God to fill us with His Holy Spirit. if we are to be wholly dependent on God our Father, we must put away the Old Man, the man of sin, the man of the world and all of its vices, wealth included, and put on the New Man, the man of righteousness, and that man, as the Holy Father, Francis, has not only said, but demonstrated, is poor in the world.

I Don’t Want to Fit In

March 11, 2015 2 comments

I don’t want to fit in. There, I said it. I don’t want society telling me what to believe, and on the same not, I don’t want to infringe on the beliefs of others. Just because society is telling me to go one way, doesn’t mean I wont walk in another direction. It doesn’t mean I am right, doesn’t mean I’m wrong, it simply means I am human. This doesn’t give me the right to discriminate against other who believe differently, it simply means I want to be respected for my beliefs, and in turn, respect others for what they belief, I don’t respect the belief, I respect someones ability to belief.

Should beliefs be disregarded because they are antiquated? I don’t believe so. People believe in many things, some seem traditional, others liberal, the important thing in this is to simply believe in something. Is someone less humane for believing one way or another, again, I don’t believe so, the important thing, in being human, is simply to believe.

Now, with that being said, I am a believer in Christ – I don’t believe government, or any man made institution holds the answer or the keys to moral relevance. However, these institutions are the boundaries in which we find ourselves as humanity. There are laws I don’t agree with, yet, I find no law in this country (the United States) that forces me to go gainst my personal structure of belief. No government or institution is FORCING me to sin by following the law. Unfortunately, people do live in countries where institutions force them to chose, I am blessed not to live in one of those countries. Whether or not I support gay marriage or not is not the issue, no one is forcing me to marry a man. Whether or not I am pro-choice or pro-life is not the issue, no one is forcing me to have an abortion. What is the issue is whether or not I am allowed to believe one way or the other, and whether or not I chose to discriminate against those who believe in a different way then I do.

Christ did not come into this world to condemn it… key, the world has already condemned itself. He came to this world to save it, through love and self sacrifice. He didn’t discriminate against those who held different beliefs, nor did he hate those who hated him. He loved them, and in the end, forgave even those who put Him to death. Without love and belief, no one who calls themselves a Christian can expect to walk in the salvation Christ came to bring to the world. Without these things, we become no better then the pharisees who taught the law and belief through fear. God does not bring condemnation, humanity does, this is why I believe that society struggles to find a fairness and an equality in all things – it is trying to bring a balance to an imbalance that has existed since sin came into the world through its own nature.

I do not fault the world for being the world, nor do I fault humanity for being humanity. They will be what they will be, they will always search for a salvation that will not, and cannot ever be, final and fulfilling. What I do fault is the secondary nature of bringing humanity and the world into our own, as believers in Christ, operating procedure. I do not expect the world or humanity to ever respond in love and true tolerance, but I do expect Body of Christ to respond as the Head did. That does not mean “accepting” sin or immorality, but on the contrary, loving those, who like us, are sinners

The Phantom Coming to PC

February 20, 2015 Leave a comment
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