Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mission: Impossible!

Navigating the downtown crowd, someone had given him a small mp3 device. The LCD display revealed a number, which matched an embossed address on the building to his right. Crossing the street, dodging the jostling cars, he skipped up three steps to the massive glass, rotating doors.

Inside, the lobby bustled with activity. A man dressed as a porter stopped in front of him, and handed him a small, manilla envelope.

"You'll find this helpful, Mr. Banks."

The porter left, mingling with the crowd near an elevator alcove, and disappeared.

Banks found a bench seat, opened the envelope and pulled a pair of ear buds out. Plugging them in to the mp3 device, he pushed the play button. Immediately, a deep, resonant voice began speaking.

"Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to warn as many people as you can about a coming disaster. You will find the tools you need in the janitors room on the other side of the elevator bay.

"Now, I should warn you, your mission will make you a target. You'll be warning people of an enemy that they don't accept as real. In fact, it's an enemy they are convinced is, essentially, good. So, you will be telling them that they're whole outlook on everyday life is backwards. Many will ignore you. Some will try to silence you.

"But there will be help. In the interest of time, I've put together a team for you. You won't be alone. But, you should know that you might be incited to argue or even fight among your team. This mission will test the fabric of your faith in its ultimate purpose. .

"If you, or any one of your team refuse this mission or fall away, deciding it isn't important, you and your actions will be disavowed. But, if you or any of your team are discovered or killed during the course of your mission, you can be sure that your message will go on. In fact, it will become stronger. And you and your actions will never be disavowed. This message will self-destruct in 5 seconds."

Banks rose from the bench, leaving the black device sitting behind. Smoke rose from it as it dissolved. Down the hall from the elevators, he found the janitor's room. Inside he found a wooden box with a book sitting on top of it. A bullhorn sat next to it.

The book had a ribbon marking a certain page. After opening it, he realized what he needed to do. 


Saturday, January 12, 2013

In Darkness I Remain

With an act of will I choose my path, reach out to heaven, grasp grace at last.

Amid my struggle, darkness coils its tendrils round my soul.
Lifting, groaning, stepping, falling, the weight will lift, I know.

For I have made my choice, my life, I’ve chosen wisely, left the strife.

But still the soil of life ensnares me, reaps my sweat, uncovers, bares me.
My fist I shake to heaven’s gate. Where is the promise, I’ve come to hate? Where is my blessing? What sin remains? I’m left with rags and filthy stains.

Here within the wedding feast, I’m dressed to kill but not to eat.
All those around me I despise for glowing robes and then their eyes.
They see right through me, the choice I’ve made.

With mine own hand I sought to save, this wretched soul, this dirty slave.

It belonged to me, I sought to boast, my own to give, my health to toast.

Yet coming swiftly is the One, whom I fear, I loath, I shun.
My putrid clothes He must reject, and me, who wore them as his guest.

How did I come to such an end? Not by the door, not as a friend.

My will I kept to my demise, the clothes of death that never die.

He doesn’t care, my counsel firm, He meets me here, on my own term.
Yet thrown away, apart from them, I find myself alone again.
For all my work through toil and rain, the door is closed.

In darkness I remain.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Does God Need to Audition?

I had a mind to throw it against the wall. What held me back was the nice paint-job my wife had done, which I didn't want to nick or scar. I settled for closing the novel without putting the book-mark back in.

My wife asked what was wrong.

"This book is crap," I said. "I can't believe this stuff gets published. Did an editor even read this? Did the author do the least bit of research on the human race and how one might respond during a crisis? Is this actually meant to be a satire and I'm just missing the point?"

The book was a well-known novel, and, to its credit, well-loved by tens of thousands of book-buyers. So, it is very possible I was in the vast minority in my critique of the book. Or, perhaps, I'm just more ticked by having to stretch my suspension of disbelieve to sci-fi when I'm reading a standard thriller. Give me a heads-up if you're going to make people behave like androids!

And here's where it got me thinking. We all read books where we say, WTH, would anyone really do that? I think I'd just go to the police. Full disclosure: someone said the EXACT SAME thing about my novel The Next Chapter. Of course, they liked romance novels, primarily, so I took that criticism with a whole salt mine. 

Then there are those eye-rolling novels where people begin praying aloud to God. Or, worse, where God becomes a character in their book. I mean, does God have to audition for the role? And how do we humans, who can't seem to portray each other in consistently believable ways, hope to depict God in his awesome, unfathomable ways? And if a fictional character is praying, does that prayer represent true conversation with God, or is it taking God's name in vain?

Let me know what you think about this issue in the comments below. Check out my books, if you like, and let me know if you think I portray faith respectfully in a fictional context.

As a parting thought, Cecil B. DeMille, director of The Ten Commandments, said once that there were two things that couldn't be properly portrayed in film due to their highly personal nature: sex and prayer.