Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue XVIII

The Road to Damascus
The Sequel to PONTIFUS,
A Guide to the 2059/2060 World's Fair
and The Long Road Home
By Bob Kirchman
Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved

For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.” – Acts 22:15

Mátyás Corvinus was the oldest of three brothers. They had been called ‘children of destiny’ as they made their marks on the great stage of human affairs. The youngest had risen to prominence in the church… indeed he was considered a leader and unifier.

Middle brother Alexey rose in the realm of government and finance. He had been Prime Minister of Poland but his influence extended deep into the world banking system. Now he was Secretary General of the United Nations, no longer in New York City, but meeting in the compound of the Centre for World Peace in Iraq… that is until the war, when along with Mátyás, they were forced to move to Alaska.

Matyas was the ‘face’of the movement, but in the day-to-day operations of Worldstate it was clear that there was a ‘Trinity.’ Not exactly a holy one, but a triune leadership existed.

The unexpected result of the Middle-East war had been their sudden departure from Baghdad to the wilds of Alaska. Israel now occupied the full extent of territories that were assigned to it in the Holy Texts. They had soundly defeated their attacking neighbors and were indeed an embarrassment to Worldstate, who labored under the premise that one world government would lead to lasting peace and prosperity.

Having appropriated the finest quarters in Fairgate/Fairbanks, the three brothers laid out their plans to bring this about. The ‘Christian’ churches were pretty weak and had been easily brought together. When the youngest brother met with the acting Pope (the real Pontiff had disappeared at the time of the great disappearances), it was clear who was in charge. Dispensing quickly with ‘divisive’ and ‘narrow’ distinctives, the unified church was now being primed to usher in the new world order.

There were, notably, some holdouts in the wider world of religion. Judaism in particular maintained a distinct and historic place and Islam refused to bow to anyone but their prophet. The older Corvinus skillfully manipulated them into alliances however, and created a sort of peace.

But then there was ‘The Way.’ Unlike the great world religions it had no human seat of power to speak of. There were no great radio speeches or media outlets for it. The elder Corvinus had made sure of that. And yet it spread… friend telling friend, even in a world that had finally dispensed with belief in the Divine, it still held on. Corvinus would not have minded that, but it was a ‘way’ that its followers could not help but share. It had the potential, Corvinus felt, to ‘turn the world upside-down.’

The keeping of world peace demanded that this movement be silenced. The ‘enforcers’ did a great work in their bloody suppression of ‘The Way,’ but it was not enough. Corvinus would often find himself traveling to some remote part of the world to do the work himself… and this was bothering him. He was the ‘thinking’ one of the brothers, the one who’s initial inspiration had created the ‘Centre for World Peace.’ “Why,” he wondered, “was the attainment of world peace so bloody?”

Then too, there was the uneasiness of the three brothers’ position at the top of human evolution. That elevated position should have cleared their minds of the old superstitions but it was clear that the Brothers Corvinus were still under the influence of something greater than themselves and it was not benevolent! The ‘inspirations’ of the three were seeming more dark and troublesome all the time.

And then Mátyás Corvinus was informed that the leadership of ‘The Way’ had been discovered in a place in the Middle-East. Corvinus roused his valet and packed his bags as his private jet was readied for a flight to Damascus!

The flight was turbulent, but Corvinus had a fitful sleep anyway. Entering Syrian airspace the plane was on approach when a bright explosion shook the sky. The pilots, and Corvinus were blinded. The old airplane had a fairly sophisticated autopilot and the pilot hastily engaged it by pushing the code into a console. Interestingly though, the software had not been updated after the war. The airport that the little plane eased into a descent for was no longer an active one. The plane eased itself onto a deserted runway.

The man who had no identity, known only as ‘Ransom’ looked up. He had come to encourage a small house church movement in this remote part of the world and was awaiting his own plane arriving at the abandoned field for transportation out. Now he and his friends were trapped. Indeed the plane that landed now was conspicuously painted with Worldstate livery. “We’ve been found out,” said ‘Ransom.’ “Prepare to meet our Master!”

But there was not the expected rush of enforcers… only three men staggering out of an airplane, blind as bats! They were quite unable to use their side-arms.‘Ransom’ felt compelled to go forward to greet them… even as he motioned to his companions to get away. “President Corvinus!” the shadowy old man half gasped in amazed greeting.

The conversation that took place in the hours following their meeting was one Mátyás would never forget. Indeed his fitful dreams (if they WERE just dreams) had convinced him “it was hard to kick against the goads.”

The unique layout of Fairgate uses a grid derived from nature.


(to be continued)


Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue XVII

Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.

Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.

And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.” -- Psalm 39:5-7

The Big Diomede Service Plaza was by now fully in operation again. The van pulled into a loading dock behind the kitchen that served the various restaurants in the building that spanned the highway. The driver helped Fred… now ‘Joe’ with his bag. “For Heaven’s sake, remember your new name!” whispered the driver. “Come with me.” Now the two entered the busy kitchen and its pantries. “We need to slip into the Ladies’ room,” the driver said. ‘Joe’ hesitated but the man urgently pushed him along. The room was momentarily deserted but the driver made some frantic gestures in front of a mirror and quickly pushed them both into a trucker’s shower room. Locking the door, the driver held his finger to his lips, calling for silence. He opened a locker in the room and the back soon opened as well, revealing a secret passageway.

Joe’ went on alone. The dark hallway appeared to be a steam tunnel and it went on for a considerable distance before ‘Joe’ sensed the presence of another human being. “This was Mama Greene’s greatest triumph!” the shadowy figure whispered. “Call me ‘Ransom.’ You might be interested to know that when the great bridge was built, Mama Greene was the Pastor’s wife and she sort of shocked everyone by taking a job at the service plaza. She was the reason many of her coworkers found ‘The Way,’ but there was one thing about the great bridge that really troubled her…

It was the young girls, they passed through here constantly in the company of their benefactor-captors… headed for the vilest and most degrading form of servitude. The secret passageway allowed her to whisk many of them out of here unseen. She would lead them through this portal into a new life!”

They walked along as ‘Ransom’ spoke. “Now I shall show you what redemption looked like for these young women.” Passing now from back to front of a similar cabinet to the one by which they had entered the tunnel, they found themselves in the locker room of some sort of workspace. Mannequins and sewing machines identified it as some sort of clothing factory. “Mama Greene knew that without the hope of something better, the girls would simply disappear into servitude again… so she created this! Here she created a line of designer clothing and cosmetics, right here on Big Diomede. Everyone thought they came out of New York City in the ‘Lower 48,’ but that was not the truth.

This is the basement of one of the college residences in the original Biosphere. I know you may have heard that this area is permanently sealed off due to a lab accident that happened as a result of the disappearances. Indeed there was a small radiation spill, but that has been dealt with. We ‘seed’ a bit of radiation near the entrances to the Biosphere and that keeps the enforcers away. Even better, I and some of my fellow staff are in permanent ‘isolation’ here because we are classified as ‘radiation survivors.’ We get supplies from the Service Plaza via a robot carrier but no-one wants to come in and bother us!”

Joe’ was now ushered up the stairs where he was assigned a little room and ‘Ransom’ left him to freshen up. The room was simple and tastefully furnished. On a nightstand was a copy of the book: ‘Notes to Priscilla and Aquilla’ and a Gideon Bible. ‘Joe’ picked up the little book and picked up where he had left off with it. He was dozing off and dreaming about magic wardrobes, or something like that when ‘Ransom’ knocked on his door, inviting him to dinner.

Stepping out of the little building, ‘Joe found himself in a place of well-manicured lawns and somewhat overgrown gardens. Little robot mowers quietly striped the deserted greens and a perfusion of bright hollyhocks bordered them. Here and there was a miniature horse contently grazing on the crisp pastures. “Another of Mama’s inspirations!” the man said. “She insisted on there being butterflies and hummingbirds here. The little horses were one of her projects too. She thought they would eventually replace the little mowers.”

Above them was the dome of the Biosphere, which sealed out the harsh Wintery weather of the far North. The panes were blue-tinted and milky so no one could photograph what went on inside… they were ionized so that you could electrically clear them when there was a glorious sky that everyone wanted to see but during the months of prolonged darkness they remained milky… reflecting back the full-spectrum lighting that simulated a more normal day. The Biosphere was driven by geothermal energy and since it had its own source and power plant, no one bothered to ask why it was still running. “When the Dome is clear,” ‘Ransom’ continued, “You can see across that green to open sea and the rising sun! As the sun first illuminates a new day, we can see it here.” ‘Joe’ continued to take in the wonders of this new place. As they walked to the refectory, a brilliant hummingbird or butterfly frequently punctuated their conversation.

As they rounded a corner, ‘Joe’ froze. He pointed silently to a rather large BEAR who was ambling into the building they intended to enter. “Oh,” said ‘Ransom,’ “You will need to make the acquaintance of ‘Mister Bultitude!’ You see, we had a little biological research lab here studying hibernation. They hoped to find out how to slow down the human metabolism to fight diseases, so they engaged the services of a most experienced hibernator! He’s quite friendly and the staff all love him.”

Around tables in a paneled room, a small but rather diverse group of people were enjoying some rather deep conversation. ‘You will get to meet our students in the days to come.” Said ‘Ransom,’ “but for now enjoy a decent meal and our hospitality.” The students actually dined in courses, which they took turns serving to their fellows. There were tablecloths and cloth napkins… the whole setting seemed to be from another Century, right down to the soft lighting. Ransom explained: “Dr. Greene felt that the high dinner was often a better setting for learning than the classroom. In the day, students actually dressed for dinner. Greene was not one to write dress-codes and you are quite fine in what you are wearing, but you must know that Dr. Greene was one to nurture traditions of meaning, particularly when they were instituted by his students.

I remember when his little daughter would dine here with her parents and politely tell the young men how nice they looked. Indeed there was a sense of a higher way of living established here, aside from bears in the refectory! The students nicknamed her ‘Queen Lucy,’ for she, tomboy as she was, loved to put on a long dress for the dinners. The students would always feign wonder at the ‘transformation,’ but in reality they saw it as another affirmation of the work they were engaged in. They loved her for it even as they teased her mercilessly when her smiling face appeared upside down from the tree she was hiding in!

After dinner, ‘Ransom’ and ‘Joe’ took a leisurely stroll on the campus grounds. “Here is the first real house that was built on Big Diomede,” said ‘Ransom’ as he pointed out the little parsonage. It is empty now for since the family disappeared none of us have wanted to disturb it. Most of the good Doctor’s books found their way over to the college anyway and though those of us who remain did not at the time love his G-d, we loved Dr.Greene! We try to continue the work here as he would have wanted us to.”

Walking beyond the campus, the two men passed the Zimmerman family houses, which were also dark and uninhabited. “Here is where the men and women who designed and built the great bridge ultimately spent their lives. It is no accident that the houses look to be of the same size and design as the parsonage. They were all built by a Swedish designer from Virginia who valued beauty and economy in construction. In the end, the Zimmerman and O’Malley families sought a fairly simple and unencumbered life as they pursued their various projects to build the ‘Better Kingdom.’

Joe’ wanted to learn more. “How does one come to study here?” he asked. He was used to admissions forms and standardized testing from his academic career in the ‘Lower 48,’ so he was a bit surprised when his host said: “You’ve already begun the process if you wanted to.” ‘Joe’ was perplexed, but ‘Ransom’ continued: “It always started with dinner with Dr. Greene. Greene would watch you as you interacted with him and his family. He was particularly observant of how you treated children and how you treated us who were in the custodial department. You could be the brightest bulb in the bunch but if you had no respect for a man in coveralls you were already out.

Greene had this thing about ‘Imago Dei,’ the ‘Image of G-d’ being in every person. If you couldn’t see it, he felt like he had nothing he could teach you. I remember once when some powerful leader decided that his son should get educated by Greene. Greene was so recognizable then as an academic leader and a man of G-d, but Rupert Zimmerman put on his coveralls and was replacing lamps and ballast in the building when the young man arrived. He was indeed impeccably dressed and Zimmerman bided his time as the youth waited in the lobby. He presently saw his opportunity and asked from his ladder if the young man would hand him up a bulb.

The youth responded in an arrogant manner that he was here for an appointment with the head of the college and didn’t want to get his hands dirty! Soon Greene’s assistant ushered him in to the office and the matter was forgotten… until a few hours later at dinner at the Greene’s house where an impeccably dressed Rupert Zimmerman joined them. Greene’s wife and daughter had been painting together that day and conspicuously wore the evidence on their fingers. Zimmerman, though he’d used a finger brush, still wore the evidence of his encounter with a rather dirty fixture he had worked on.

Greene began the pre-dinner introductions: ‘I assume you have met Mr. Zimmerman, former chair of the Zimmerman Bridge and Highway Company? He now serves on the board of this college.’ Zimmerman, for his part said later that he had really had to apologize to the young man later for the way he was enjoying the silent dinner. ‘There I was, savoring that macaroni and cheese in silence, and LOVING every minute of it!’ Rupert confessed later. Needless to say, the poor young man voluntarily withdrew his application but later became a very wise fellow in his own right… at a regular university, or perhaps we should say in SPITE of a regular university! The greatest lesson he ever learned, he would recount in speeches around the world, was taught to him that night at that dinner table!”

Ransom,’ for his part had been listening intently to ‘Joe’s’ story even as he touted the wonders of the Biosphere for him. He sensed that this young man was ready to move into some more perfect way of discipleship.

And so began a time of learning and wonder for ‘Joe.’ He began to get to know the handful of other students better as they wrestled with Scripture and its application together. He was sad that there were no longer any women there, wondering at the joy that ‘Queen Lucy’ must have cast over such a world. Those who were here, he learned, were the ones who had shut out the knowledge of the Way from their lives, even as those around them pleaded to Heaven for their loved ones to taste Eternity. They had been, sadly, like Kay in the palace of the Snow Queen, blinded to the wonders meant for them and untouched by the warm tears of their Gerdas. Untouched that is until the disappearance caused those prayers and tears to finally melt their hearts and in their anguish they turned to that which had been most precious to those who loved them.

The love that had melted their hearts was something they all cherished and that love drew them together. Outside the Biosphere, Mátyás Corvinus, head of the Worldstate Combined States Government, was working very hard to eliminate this movement, but even the threat of beheading by his ‘enforcers’ could not compete with redemptive love. Five hundred miles away in Fairgate, Corvinus was indeed plotting their demise, but for now the little company was safely hidden at the ‘End of the World.’


(to be continued) [click to read]

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved


Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue XVII

Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more." --Psalm 39:12,13

Days stretched into months. Time lost its meaning in the sameness of the work and weather. The highway patrol force was enjoying the labor that Fred gave them, so there was no great hurry in their minds to send him on ‘the way of the goat.’ In the bleak sameness of his routine, Fred’s soul was stirred to great imaginings. Though there was no hope of escape, there was a hope that always arrived just in time to fight back the demons of despair.

Trucks rolled by. There were few cars now and most of the convoys were military. Fred saw that there was little likelihood of escape. The drivers were closely watched and most of the private loads were sealed. There was simply no place to slip out of sight and ride away.

Then one day a local came through with a canvas topped truck carrying boxes of food and such. The agents detained the driver as his paperwork was out of order and he was crossing into their sector. As a bit of haggling over the bribe amount took place, Fred saw his chance. His captors were deep in discussion, arms waving and voices loud, as Fred slipped into the back. He had no idea if this would work, but he decided to go for it. There was a bit of space in the haphazard jumble of containers that just might work and Fred eased himself into the void.

The haggling droned on. “Whatever these guys were angling for, it must be good.” Fred thought to himself. Eventually it appeared that a deal was cast and Fred’s two captors appeared presently at the back of the truck with the driver. A large box was wrestled off of the truck and the agents strained to carry it to the customs house as the driver sped off.

How far would this ride take him and would he ever find friendly help? That was something Fred could not know, but his instinct had brought him this far. The honorable art of striking a deal had consumed three men’s attention when he was most vulnerable. He had not been captured. Fred found himself praying, asking God to help and direct him. For the time being he bounced along on what turned out to be a very long ride.

Then, just as the truck pulled through a checkpoint on the border of the Russian Federation, there was mechanical trouble. The border agents obviously knew this guy and waved him along so that he could get some help. The agents didn’t want to deal with a disabled truck so they performed a rather perfunctory inspection and let it go. There was an Intercontinental Logistics bunkhouse and service compound 40 kilometers in and if the driver reached it, there was a mechanic’s shop that might give him some honest help.

The wheezing diesel chugged its way into the lights of the compound and the driver began pleading his case. Fred decided this might be a good place to make his move and when he saw his opening he slipped out of the truck and around to the back of the driver’s mess. There were some Russian cooks there talking with the manager in English. Fred quietly approached the kitchen door. One of the cooks was reading something aloud in his broken English and Fred listened in thankful astonishment:

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of G-d. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to G-d in regard to the spirit.

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of G-d’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of G-d. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength G-d provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of G-d rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with G-d’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of G-d? And,

If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” – 1 Peter 4

I’m sure the ICL employees who jumped at Fred’s arrival at the door were momentarily convinced that they were about to see that passage play out in their own lives, for what they were doing was indeed something not encouraged by Worldstate. Fred introduced himself and it was soon clear that all of them were trying to learn the more perfect way. Sergy, Peter and Vladimir were their names. They had found a well-word ‘Guide to Priscilla and Aquilla’ in a missing comrade’s belongings and in spite of the official decree that all such materials were to be turned in to the authorities, they were sharing it.

Sergy told Fred their story after the shock of their first meeting, and Fred’s admission that he too was studying ‘the way.’ They had put the pieces together in their mind after the Russian Federation President had gone missing during the disappearances. The man had been raised by an atheist KGB grandfather but had shamelessly embraced his Orthodox heritage after finding his Grandmother’s Bible. That story, though Worldstate Media was suppressing it, had spread like wildfire. All the filter algorithms in the world could not stop the power of friend telling friend face-to-face.

Indeed, Worldstate’s promise of fulfillment through government policy rang hollow with anyone who was familiar with the history of the old Soviet Union and here were three men, not scholars, but men with eyes open, who dared to believe in fulfillment beyond this life. “We don’t know if there are many of us,” Sergy continued, “But we listen to the drivers and it seems there is a gathering of like-minded disciples up at ‘the bridge.’ By design we don’t have contacts but it seems likely that the same guidance that brought you to us will serve to take you to them.

Every week there is a small van that carries paperwork and some supplies from ICL central offices in Wales, in the Alaskan Republic. Sometimes the driver is a man we know, who is with us. Perhaps he could take you closer to your home. There is a problem in that you have no papers, but we will have to give you an identity if we can find someone who looks like you in the ranks of our employees who have disappeared.”

We have done that before,” Peter added. “We believe the man got as far as Diomede.”

Peter referred here to the island along the bridge where one first came into America from Asia. The evacuated tube trains were not passing straight through anymore as Worldstate had established her new capital in the Alaskan Republic. They monitored their borders closely.

Take a look at the ‘new you!’” said Vladimir as he handed Fred the mirror. Fred stared in stunned silence at the change rendered by hair dye and prosthetic makeup. What he saw unnerved him and Vladimir asked him about it. “Nothing,” said Fred, “I just feel like I’ve seen a ghost!” Come, said Peter, we’ll give you your walking papers. Sergy handed him a folder. Fred carefully opened it… he didn’t want to know the truth he feared was coming. He took a nervous gulp as he arranged his new wallet and passport folders… “I am now Joseph Robert Kirke,” he gasped, “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance!”

The supply shuttle was quite erratic in its schedule, so it would be weeks before Fred would reach the International Date Line.

(to be continued) [click to read

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved


Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue XVI

The Long Road Home
The Sequel to PONTIFUS and 
A Guide to the 2059/2060 World's Fair
By Bob Kirchman
Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble." -- Psalm 59:16

Fred shuddered as his captor lifted the goat carcass to bleed it. “Tonight’s supper!” the man laughed roughly. He handed his axe to his companion who rounded the corner. Then Fred saw the van speed off and he was quite sure his life had been spared for only a little bit of time. “You will make good worker.” The captor said; “Then you go way of goat!”

Enslaved! How unlike the world of “freedoms” he had grown up in. Good men had labored for centuries to end the vile institution of human enslavement, but the new ‘enforcers’ of Worldstate’s remote highways had no respect for the hard-fought battle for human dignity and freedom. Fred thought of the history class where he had slept through a lecture on the Barbary Pirates. These brigands had taken men off of American ships and pressed them into their service. Thomas Jefferson had sent in the Marines.

But now, Worldstate was stepping forward to fill the void left by the disappearance of millions of people. Their rule was pretty universal and they had conscripted the vilest of terrorists as their enforcers. There would be no Marines, Fred thought to himself.

And so began the days of his unwilling service. Fred’s strong physique made him a useful worker and he found that his mind was quite engaged in ways he could not have forseen. Now, left without his Bible and the little guide that had sparked his interest in matters Eternal, he found that those things pushed their way into his mind as he labored. He was surprised at how he was not in such despair as he thought he would be. Though he lived with the constant threat of death, it was losing its fearsomeness. Though he indeed was treated roughly, he was finding some sure reservoir of strength to draw from. He didn’t understand it, but he didn’t need to.

Something was drawing Fred’s attention to beauty… even in the midst of this bleakness. Things such as clouds in the sky and the golden light of evening, when his labors ceased, the young man counted as treasure as he embraced them as simple gifts from above. Indeed, he was conversing with the Divine. That did not override some of his anguish and confusion, but like the reassurance markers that told you the Bering Strait Bridge was in a certain direction, they pointed to some point of resolution.

Would it be in this life, or in a life to come? Fred did not know. Had he known the old hymns he would have known the sweet juxtaposition of hope in Heaven dwelling comfortably alongside hope for joys in this present life as well. The old saints could have shown him that a savoring of nature’s majesty was quite naturally a prelude to the great story of Redemption. That was the movement in the symphony that preceded the great crescendo of Eternity! One did not need the life he lived to be perfection in order to feel this joy. In fact, it seemed to take root most vigorously in a variety of circumstances.

Perfection was not necessary for it to grow. Joe, who had disappeared at Taba, was far from perfect in his living it out. The dedication he had for his friends had its roots in something that now called Fred to want it as well. But those family members he identified with that type of living were now gone. “Who would be able to show me this ‘more perfect way?’ Fred wondered, for there was indeed a noticeable vacuum in the world in the wake of the disappearances

(to be continued) [click to read]


Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue XV

And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of G-d more perfectly." -- Acts 18:24-26

Charles fingered the book thoughtfully. This "Way" had inspired Fred to die for something... not a coerced death or a whipped up entering into the ways of a mob, but a reasoned decision that something was more precious to him than life itself! The Notes to Priscilla and Aquilla guides were indeed considered dangerous and subversive. Fred had surely paid the price for possessing one, but here it was. Charles was alone with the volume and though he believed it was dangerous, his curiosity gnawed at him. "Surely I am strong enough to resist blatant fallacy!" he reasoned. He knew he should turn the volume in to be burned... but he was alone.

The knowledge that Fred had found something larger here drew him onward."What, pray tell, was this 'More Perfect Way?'" Surely the Worldstate had a way more perfect than any profession of dogma... and if so, what was the contrasting thought that would help him recognize it? Trembling, he opened the little book.

The Seven Gifts of the Spirit, the book began. They were found in the old books of the Prophets:
The Gifts of the Spirit 

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: A spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, A spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD (piety), And his delight shall be the fear of the LORD."
-- Isaiah 11:2,3a

Wisdom: It is the capacity to love spiritual things more than material ones;

Understanding: In understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as followers of Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live. The gift of understanding perfects a person's speculative reason in the apprehension of truth. It is the gift whereby self-evident principles are known;

Counsel (right judgement): With the gift of counsel/right judgment, we know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose to do what is right. A person with right judgment avoids sin and lives out the values taught by Jesus;

Fortitude (courage): With the gift of fortitude/courage, we overcome our fear and are willing to take risks as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with courage is willing to stand up for what is right in the sight of G-d, even if it means accepting rejection, verbal abuse, or physical harm. The gift of courage allows people the firmness of mind that is required both in doing good and in enduring evil;

Knowledge: With the gift of knowledge, we understand the meaning of G-d. The gift of knowledge is more than an accumulation of facts, it also helps us to choose the right path through life;

Piety (reverence): With the gift of piety/reverence, we have a deep sense of respect for G-d and the Church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on G-d and comes before G-d with humility, trust, and love. Piety is the gift whereby, at the Holy Spirit's instigation, we pay worship and duty to G-d as our Father, Aquinas writes;

Fear of the Lord (wonder and awe): With the gift of fear of the Lord/wonder and awe, we are aware of the glory and majesty of G-d. A person with wonder and awe knows that G-d is the perfection of all we desire: perfect knowledge, perfect goodness, perfect power, and perfect love. This gift is described by Aquinas as a fear of separating oneself from G-d. He describes the gift as a "filial fear," like a child's fear of offending his father, rather than a "servile fear," that is, a fear of punishment. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."

The source of the traditional names of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Septuagint and the Vulgate read “piety” for “fear of the Lord” in its first occurrence, thus listing seven gifts."

Charles read eagerly.  In Galatians 5, there were also 'Fruits' of that same Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."

But these were somehow 'subversive' and illegal? It seemed to Charles that any society propelled by such virtues would be a happy one indeed! Locking the door to his room, he read on. Sometime in the dawning hours of morning, he got to the handwritten notes in the end. The notes spoke of a dialogue with the Divine, there was a peace to be found there... unlike the heavy peace under the hand of Worldstate. "There is freedom here!" thought Charles. "It is a freedom created by timeless principles that guide the one who possesses them, not a peace imposed by oversight... unless one saw that reverence for the Divine was stronger than mere human oversight.

Charles carefully wrapped the little book in his clothes and secured it in his luggage. For now the promise seemed greater than the life he now lived. Joe's notes clearly pointed in that direction. Fred had added to the dialogue in his own hand as well. His notes were brief, but honest. Charles knew his friend well enough to see that. Perhaps he too would find the courage to pray, as suggested. Perhaps he would have to pay the ultimate price for the ultimate Gift as Fred had? He whispered that much to the Almighty as he pulled the van onto A2 heading East toward Siberia.


(to be continued) [click to read]

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved


Monday, April 11, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue XIV

He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.”
-- Daniel 7:25

Explain THIS!" said the surly border agent on the Siberia Highway. He held up the well-worn copy of Notes to Priscilla and Aquilla, now much annotated by Fred and the Bible that accompanied it. A routine inspection at an A2 checkpoint was going sour as the two travelers had been chosen for a 'random' inspection and agents were opening their duffles. Charles watched in horror as his companion was wrestled into cuffs, but he never stopped thinking. As the scuffle ensued, the young man quietly picked up the book and slid it when the agents were not looking into the springs of the van's driver's seat. He knew he was taking a risk by hiding evidence, but somehow he felt that might help his friend.

The agents announced that Fred was being detained indefinitely and that Charles could be detained as well... or simply move along. Charles panicked. Surly the rumors were just rumors... the ones about beheadings, he thought, but the Middle-Eastern men who suddenly had been elevated to law-enforcement positions by WORLDSTATE seemed quite capable of dispensing 'instant judgement' if they wanted to. Certain 'Religious' books had been linked to the disappearance or abduction of billions of people and possession of them was cause for detention. A dusty Bible on a shelf was no cause for concern... as it was simply a 'Cultural Artifact,' but if it was well-worn and marked, and accompanied by other texts suggesting its application in one's life it suggested a lack of respect for Worldstate's important work in preserving order.

It had been several months since the disappearances, the war and the ascension of Mátyás Corvinus to world leadership. Roads had been reopened and it was time for Fred and Charles to go home. Fred's family had been among the missing but Charles still had an Aunt in Virginia and so the young men decided it was time to go home. They were about out of funds anyway. The great fair no longer had any attraction for them. Big Diomede now held no friends and family, but they still had to pass through it on their way. Now Charles had a bitter decision to make. The agents decided to make it simple for him. Detaining him at gunpoint by the van, they escorted Fred around the checkpoint building. The next thing Charles heard was his friend's screams, followed by a deep 'thud.' Presently an agent rounded the building with a bloody axe. Charles was again given his options. Shaking, he repacked the van.

Mátyás Corvinus was speaking on the radio as he started the van: "Citizens of WORLDSTATE, it is quite clear today that there are pockets of resistance to our important work of returning the world to stability and prosperity. No doubt, the Zionist state is largely to blame, but there is a deeper 'homegrown' terrorist element who claim allegiance to a power somehow 'higher' than worldstate. They are most dangerous to our work of restoring peace to the world. We are compelled to use every means at our disposal to stop them."

Corvinus smiled. Indeed it was a stroke of genius to have enfolded the most vile of terrorists as 'enforcers' in the new world order. Somehow Corvinus' smooth dialogue had convinced them that he indeed would help usher in the new world order THEY sought. In any case, a certain amount of chaos and fear served them both, terrorist and would-be leader of the world. But chaos must not be allowed to run unchecked for too long. A new refocusing must take place before Corvinus' TRUE work could be done. People's hearts and allegiances were still focused in too many places. A new world order required mankind to adopt a singular focus for their devotion, yea even their WORSHIP! Mátyás Corvinus gazed into his mirror... and he smiled.

The Siberia Highway in Winter.

(to be continued) [click to read]

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved


Tuesday, April 5, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue XIII

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." -- Sir Winston Churchill

The process which, if not checked, will abolish Man goes on apace among Communists and Democrats no less than among Fascists. The methods may (at first) differ in brutality. But many a mild-eyed scientist in pince-nez, many a popular dramatist, many an amateur philosopher in our midst, means in the long run just the same as the Nazi rulers of Germany. Traditional values are to be ‘debunked’ and mankind to be cut out into some fresh shape at the will (which must, by hypothesis, be an arbitrary will) of some few lucky people in one lucky generation which has learned how to do it." -- Reverend John Richardson [1.]

Mátyás Corvinus was not happy. He had evacuated himself and his staff from the Centre for World Peace as the Israeli war began. 1,582 miles away in Moscow, he was surprised at the turn of events that had transpired. Baghdad was now occupied by Israeli forces. Israel had indeed taken this latest aggression by her neighbors as a 'last straw,' and moved quickly and decisively to expand to more defensible borders. Clearly he would have to address the world about this 'intolerable aggression,' but he had an immediate and embarrassing problem: He was suddenly in need of a capital.

As more information on the disappearances came to his attention, he found a solution. The Northern Hemisphere seemed to have lost most of her population. Here was a wonderful fairgrounds with state-of-the art translation technology, broadcast capability and plenty of room for his emergency command centre! For some reason there were very few people left in the Alaska and Siberia Republics. Securing the great bridge would be another extremely valid reason for this move. The remaining leaders of the world would be summoned into emergency session at the Fairgate Hall of Representation. The situation required leadership. It was time for Corvinus to make his move!

Ladies and gentlemen," Corvinus began; "The events of the past few days have turned our world upside-down. Most of us have friends or loved ones who have not been located. My condolences go out to you. The efforts of my staff to find them will be relentless. We are trying to learn exactly how Billions of people seem to have vanished."

By now you have heard the theories put forth on TV. Let me restate what IS clear at this point. It is premature to assign responsibility to 'space aliens' or some 'act of G-d,' but it IS clear that this involves some plot or energy of immense proportions. It would seem that there is a pattern, as whoever has done this has taken from us the flower of our youth, along with that there are those who might be considered spiritual people, but there is some concentration to this pattern that must be noted as well. Of the ADULTS who have been taken, it seems a common thread that they were under the influence of such writings as the 'Priscilla and Aquilla Guides,' such as the one I am holding. It is used along with the old texts to infuse the reader with the sense that the Divine will actually speak into and redeem their lives! I cannot emphasize enough how DANGEROUS this is!

As you know, there is great danger in assigning value to things outside one's subjective judgement. 'Absolute Truths' create hateful fanatics who might seek to eliminate those whom they find outside of their narrow realities. We at the Centre for World Peace have always stood for tolerance and diversity, knowing that there are many equally valid statements of 'truth.' Acceptance of one another requires that we lay aside such harmful notions such as believing that G-d, family and country are worth dying for. 

The world is in great need of healing right now. It need decisive leadership. To that end I have gathered with the remaining leaders of the world. They agree with me that it is time to bring humanity together... it is time for WORLDSTATE! Worldstate will bring an end to war and inequity. Worldstate will mean humanity will finally step into its Golden Age! But it will require sacrifice. We must give up our claims to individual and national sovereignty as well as the notion that protecting our own flesh and blood is a noble thing! The State requires our allegiance if it is to become the source which supplies our needs. 

Worldstate  can and will provide equally for all. The great Progressive experiments of the past failed, not because they were not worthy and good, but because they were diverted by evil men or thwarted by opposition. They were simply not big enough to overcome this and so they fell. Today's Worldstate is too big to fail. Worldstate will have the momentum to usher in a bright new era of hope and change."

And so the world came to the World's Fair. Mátyás Corvinus was ready to redistribute the ill-gotten treasure of the North-lands with the people of the world. But he had to eliminate any opposition that remained in order to do so.

The entrance to the Fairgate Hall of Representation.

(to be continued) [click to read]

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved


Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue XIII

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation."
 -- Psalm 91

But now Israel was at war. The modern nation of Israel had been born in 1948. Almost immediately the nations surrounding her attacked on all fronts. Miraculously, the small nation the size of New Jersey had survived. Again, in 1967, Israel was attacked by her neighbors. That war ended with her in possession of Judea, Samaria and the Sinai! But now enemies like Iran threatened to fire warheads into Israel. Seeking to take advantage of world chaos, the nations again rose up against the small country.

Missiles were in the air, a young woman officer informed her 'guests' as she escorted them to an underground bunker. "The 'Iron Dome' has been activated, but this is a full attack. Iranian ICBMs are on their way as I speak." Fred and Charles were unable to speak, but followed their guide down a long hallway to a windowless room with bunks in it. Had the two travelers been allowed to see a map of troop positions, they would have seen a massing for invasion from Syria, Jordan and Sinai.

So this is what fear tastes like," thought Charles. Fred pulled out the Notes to Priscilla and Aquilla book and spent the time in the shelter by delving into it. Charles' derisive remarks did not phase him. Death was a very real possibility as this little bunker was no match for what was likely headed their way. Was Israel launching a counter-attack?, they wondered aloud, but their tight-lipped handler said nothing. Indeed there were intense shaking and rumblings that rocked the shelter. For over a day and night they stayed there.

And then it was over. Their guide knocked on their door and announced that it was safe to come out of the bunker. She introduced herself as 'Sarah,' and said: "Come see what the Divine has done!"

The bright light of the desert sun blinded them as they surfaced. They made their way to the dining hall as Sarah explained that the missiles launched at her country had been stopped! 'Iron Dome' is good, but not good enough, to explain the survival of our people this day! All of our major cities stand unscathed!, as if they were covered by the wings of the Almighty! I am not one who has lived in fear of the Lord, I must confess, but I have no other explanation for it!"

Our enemies have not fared so well, as we indeed launched the counter-attack I was not at liberty to tell you about. Their is, I fear, much death and destruction in the lands that surround us. This was necessary to deter what our commanders felt would be a wave of attacks and we are grieved by this development, you must know." Indeed the 2060 war was at least as miraculous at the others had been. But Sarah was only telling the part of the story she knew. As she spoke, a new wind from the East was pushing away the fallout.

(to be continued) [click to read]

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved


Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue XII

I will bless those who bless you, 
     and whoever curses you I will curse; 
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
 -- Genesis 12:3

Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him." -- Genesis 18:18

Fred devoured the news with great interest. One thing was clear in all of the reports, how ORDERLY the disappearance of MILLIONS of people had been. Though people piloting planes and driving buses had indeed been among the suddenly missing, it was amazing that there was always a statement like: "The bus just coasted to the side of the road," or the admission: "I wasn't supposed to fly that day, but I had to switch assignments at the last minute. All of the rest of the crew simply VANISHED!" Fred thought of his devout Mother, who possessed a whole series of novels about the 'Rapture' of the church. All of them had the disappearances create untold havoc. The striking fact about whatever this was was that there wasn't any widespread havoc. The pain of lost loved ones and leaving notes on public walls was heart wrenching enough. Perhaps the eerie quiet of the disappearances made it more so.

A number of world leaders were gone, including the Prime Minister of Israel. Reports came in that suggested whole regions in the extreme Northern Hemisphere were now uninhabited! The great bridge between continents had suffered the loss of most of its operating personnel and was closed to all but emergency travel. Fred and Charles noted that the world was now missing so many people just younger than them. There were no children... no babies. Was this, as the CNN commentators droned on, the work of space aliens, or was it Divine? Fred continued to ponder... but more and more, he was expressing his concerns to a Divine he had dismissed up to a few days ago.

If Faith was something you could be Inoculated against, Fred seemed to have been well protected by exposure to the dead form of the 'pathogen.' By the time he was given the choice of 'Christian' college or the military by his parents, he had pretty much aligned himself with those who could maintain an outward appearance while living as they wished. 'Christian' University provided plenty of companions with similar bents. You just had to remember to cover your breath.

Charles was cast in the same mold. He and Fred had met at Freshman orientation and had become fast friends. Joe arrived among them, somewhat disillusioned as he failed to live up to the 'perfection' he felt was expected of him. Inwardly he still wrestled with the tension between expectations and reality. When the three men sought adventure, he was the one who planned for contingencies. Though the other two chided him for his 'overthinking,' they were also quite happy to have his mature presence in their group. More than a few times, Joe's steady hand had kept them from disaster. Now the remaining two sorely missed him.

All three of the young men had found Israel to be wonderful. Israeli innovation was indeed fulfilling, it seemed, the prophecies given to Abraham. That is that through his posterity all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Israel was a bountiful and happy place to be, contrasting sharply with the unrest that surrounded her.

The Siberia Republic Pavilion.

(to be continued) [click to read]

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved


Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue XI

For me, reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning. Imagination, producing new metaphors or revivifying old, is not the cause of truth, but its condition.” -- C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

His friends called him "Digory," a reference to "the Professor" in C. S. Lewis' novels, for Joe Kirke was indeed prone to spend time in his books. His friends Fred and Charles found him to be a great asset in rounding out their crew for adventures... and the three young men LOVED adventures! Their latest was the "Five Continent Challenge,"where they would drive on every large continent of the world in one road trip! They had just forayed into Egypt across the Sinai and were making their way back as Joe was planning to join his older cousin Kate, Kate's husband, and her friends on a trip to the World's Fair in Alaska.

Kate had scolded him: "Don't be late!" as he Skyped her from Cairo. She was not so much worried about his resolve as the road-worthiness of the van the three companions had dubbed: "Evelyn," a reference to a movie they had seen were a girl joins a road trip to find her birth parents. In the movie, "Evelyn" finds herself mired in beach sand and Kate still had her doubts about the three friends' journey up the "Road of Bones" as the Lena Highway was called. The road was originally built by gulag prisoners and when they died, the story goes, their bones became part of the roadbed. In any case, Kate inwardly wished her cousin and his friends safely back on Big Diomede.

So far, the most impressive sight the young men had beheld was that of the stone towers of Lena Pillars National Park near Yakutsk in the Russian Federation. “Sort of like Natural Chimneys on steroids,” Joe had exclaimed upon seeing the giant formation. Indeed the stone towers of Augusta County, Virginia seemed small in comparison. Also impressive was the sheer magnitude of open country one passed through on a motor trip through Asia. The three found genuine respect for the professional drivers who traveled this hard road, especially when ‘Evelyn’ experienced a broken belt. One of these ‘Road Knights’ pulled up behind the steaming van following the unwritten code of the wilderness highway. The driver rolled out a new belt stretched from a spool of all-purpose tape and after the repair was tested, put the kettle on his portable stove and the men shared tea!

One could hardly call what they shared conversation, for the Mongolian driver spoke no English and seemed to the three as if he were a likely descendant of Genghis Khan... at least that was how the story wrote itself in their minds.The young men imagined him living in a ger and drinking copious quantities of mare's milk, to be sure. He seemed friendly in a fierce sort of way and communicated quite well with hand gestures punctuated regularly by his toothless smile. Kate was right to prod her cousin. The endless highway created a sense of eternal plodding. The young men found this intriguing, especially compared to the panicked pace of school… partying, panicked study and sweating exams all seemed so exaggerated in pace and importance compared to motoring endless and unchanging roads. The return trip offered more of the same. The three friends were actually enjoying the pace of earlier times!

They seemed excited enough about the fair. Indeed there would be interesting exhibits. "Nations of the North" told the stories of Alaska's indigenous peoples, now recognized as Nations within the Republic. The Israelis had unveiled a slew of new technologies that one had to see in person to really appreciate. The men were awestruck at the magnitude of the spectacle that awaited them, but hid it behind jokes about the "cheesy" Rupert Zimmerman Museum. "You know, it has his car in it!" Fred remarked. "A man's car does not lie about him!" The young men all attended Liberty University in Virginia where there was a Jerry Falwell museum. The museum had Falwell's Father's Model T on display. In the exhibit, two mannequins, one representing the elder Falwell, are stuffing booze into the car. You have to remember that this is a Baptist University!

The young men often retreated to the roof of their dormitory to plan their adventures, having hacked the security code for the roof door.

Fueling a Lada on the Amur Highway.

The elder Falwell, a Lynchburg businessman, had been a bootlegger and had even shot his brother in an altercation, not exactly the kind of thing one wanted remembered in his personal museum, but family history is family history. Zimmerman, after he lost everything one time, bought the sedan and drove it as he rebuilt his interests. When the great bridge was completed, Zimmerman led the procession across the span driving the Toyota. He chose the faithful ride over his classic Porsche, remarking that the President of Russia had opened the Amur Highway driving a yellow Lada. The Russian President had himself driven everything from Formula 1 cars to tanks, but for the opening chose to drive a car his people could identify with.

Zimmerman's story was at least as complex, but since his daughter Elizabeth was the force behind it it mainly focused on how he came to be inspired to build great works. The burning of his tent was truthfully presented along with his ruthless past. The night he witnessed the first accident on the bridge and the death of a trucker was told as well. "Zimmerman was a tough old curmudgeon," Fred continued. "Didn't he fight in the war and get shot and all that?" Joe nodded. His Grandfather had actually met the man, and told a different story though. Joe, for his part, wanted to remain in the companionship of bravado and didn't correct him.

Now the trio had come to Taba, where one leaves Egypt and enters Israel. Here things began to go badly. The men had left Israel without a multiple-entry visa and were now improperly documented! A trip to a consulate might be required to fix things and that would put them behind schedule. Charles decided to haggle with the border official... a bad choice as it put them in a sort of 'penalty box' as far as entering the country or retreating to Cairo. Eventually the young men were turned back. they had lost much of the day and decided to check in to a motor hotel on the Sinai road. There they had a fitful night. In the wee hours of the morning, Fred noticed that "Digory," or JOE an we should call him, was nowhere to be found.

Assuming he had taken a stroll to unwind, the men resumed their attempt to sleep but by morning it was clear that something was amiss. Several Egyptians were in agitated conversation outside their window. The two remaining men switched on BBC news and were stunned at what they heard. Large numbers of people had simply vanished! Early reports had this happening around the globe. Some world leaders were not accounted for and the TV anchors fished for explanations. The most repeated was ''space aliens' had likely abducted them. There was an eerie quality to the disappearances that made this all too plausible.

Major Metropolitan areas were under curfews, the report said. Transportation was at a standstill. Border stations were unmanned. Fred looked at Charles. Charles looked at Fred. Their unspoken: "Let's do it" echoed silently in both of their minds. They grabbed their gear and Joe's too. "He's got to be somewhere around here!" exclaimed Fred. Now's our chance! In their fear the two loaded the van and sped out into the morning light, hoping to find Joe before it was too late. An armored car was rolling into town. The men panicked, heading for the uncrossable border. There was one old Arab man at the booth. He was alone and clearly felt quite overwhelmed. Fred flashed a visa stamp... not the correct one, mind you, but the poor man in the booth waved him through.

What do we do now?" Fred moaned. The only obvious thing to do was wait around near the checkpoint and hope for 'Digory's' return. Both men felt that was pretty unlikely though, given the fact that so many people were unaccounted for. "We probably won't get much help from the authorities, will we?" But there was no time to mull the situation over as presently a large contingent of Israeli Defense Force troops appeared, announcing that the border was sealed. Israel was at war!

Recognizing the two as hapless American tourists, the IDF took them into protective custody and escorted them and their van into the country. They were taken to a military compound and sternly warned that they must stay there: "...until things are secure again." "We'll let you know if we find your friend, but it is not too likely," a tough man in fatigues told them. Joe's cell phone was among the items in his luggage and Fred felt he should call Joe's older cousin on it to let her know what was happening. The phone rang through to the voicemail, which the robo-voice said was full. Fred tried some general numbers for Big Diomede, but there was nothing. Even the BSB Information Centre yielded an endless busy signal.

Fred thought to himself: "This is so beyond unreal! There is NO WAY to get in touch with anyone! Then he remembered that Joe, though he seldom mentioned it, did know how to pray. "I wonder if the Divine would hear me?" thought Fred, and he continued by addressing that unknown Divine, pleading quietly out of the deep needs he felt in his own heart. Somehow he felt the urge to rummage in Joe's duffle and he found a well-worn Bible alongside of a little book titled: "Notes to Priscilla and Aquilla." Fred dismissed the Bible, indeed his schoolmasters had assured him repeatedly that there was no truth to be found there. The government school teachers had told him it was a book of myths, the Bible School professors had underscored this sentiment with their arbitrary proclamation that everything BUT this is false. Fred was not particularly in the mood for another theological discourse, but he picked up the second volume. It was skinnier and that he found that both reassuring and non-threatening. He began to read. The volume was well-worn and Joe, in an earlier time in his life, had marked it quite a bit. Joe's handwritten notes in the margins introduced Fred to a deeper side of his friend. Here was a side that to be quite honest, Joe had concealed from his traveling companions. The book promised to show its readers "a more excellent way." Fred needed a reality better than his present one, so he read on.

Military custody in Southern Israel is not all that bad. The chefs are Kosher and since every young person is required to serve, the military culture is, shall we say, 'broader' than that of many countries. The accommodations were simple but clean. Fred and Charles found a lounge where they could catch up on the news on TV. Here they grasped the magnitude of the situation they had fallen into. Normally the whole drive would have taken a long day from Cairo to Amann, but now it had stretched to two days and the sealing of the borders made it impossible to continue. Even if Joe somehow materialized at that moment, there would be no easy drive across the Jordan River Crossing.

The Pavilion
The Pavilion of the Cherokee and Monacan Nations at the Fairgate World's Fair. Since America's original nations are recognized in Alaska's Republic, many were represented at the fair by specific pavilions. The pavilion is modeled after a typical house of the Eastern people.

'Nations of the North' is a popular exhibit.

(to be continued) [click to read]

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved


Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue X

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." -- Sir Winston Churchill

The age of the great world's fair had been proclaimed over before, and yet here in the new Alaskan capital of Fairgate there stood a world of wonder to rival them all. The great fairs had had their beginning in the Nineteenth Century. They brought people together to see great wonders and inspired civic architecture with their gleaming classical edifices and grand reflecting pools. Rowdy Chicago was transformed through the vision of the 'White City' presented by the 1893 Columbian Exposition. St. Louis in 1904 also saw a grand vision for her future.

In Europe, France celebrated the Centennial of her bloody revolution by hosting the 1889 Exposition Universelle which featured as its centerpiece the famous Eiffel Tower. Though the critics heaped contempt on the bold design of Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier, it eventually became the symbol of the city of Paris! Railroads brought the crowds to view wonders of the present world and visions for the world to come.

New York hosted two great fairs, one in 1939/1940 and another in 1964/1965. The two-season fairs ran afoul of the official sanctioning agency's policy of recognizing only one season for each exhibition, thus they were unrecognized by the agency; but they were great fairs. Thew 1939 fair presented a vision of the future to a Depression-weary America. Farm ladies in print dresses wandered past wondrous household appliances they would only see in their own homes after a horrible World War was over. The 'White City' was replaced by a Deco world not unlike the movie vision of the Emerald City in Oz. General Motors proudly presented 'Futurama,' a ride through the world as it would be in 1960!

The 1964/1965 Worlds's Fair also produced visions of the future. General Motors built a bigger and better 'Futurama' and showed visitors underwater hotels and cities on the Moon! It was heralded as the "last of the great world's fairs." Indeed it ushered in innovations in communication and technology that would soon bring the world to people in the remotest of places. A New York Times article went so far as to say that the New York World's Fair sealed the fate of future fairs. To be sure, there were more great fairs, but by the beginning of the 21st Century the world was coming to you via your little screen! Air travel became more stressful in those years and people pretty much had seen everything that was going to be exhibited on their iPhones anyway.

Alaska had actually hosted another 'Centennial Exposition' in 1967 to celebrate 100 years passing since the purchase from Russia in 1867. It was somewhat small and had been overshadowed by Expo '67 in Montreal, Canada. Both the Montreal fair and the Fairbanks fair had featured geodesic domes... a forerunner of the biospheres that would cover her communities in another century. At the time it indeed seemed as though technology had rendered the institution of 'World's Fairs' obsolete. They had progressed from grand 'White Cities' that had inspired true civic renewal to brash conglomerations of competing iconic structures that, while fascinating, were not exactly structures you wanted to copy in remaking your community.

The Bering Strait Bridge was completed in the 21st Century and the world seemed smaller again. Evacuated tube trains made extremely long distance travel fun again as they could literally whisk you to the other side of the world in a matter of hours. In the years following the Alaska Revolution, there seemed to be a newfound optimism and people were ready to visit the great fairs again. Since Alaska still considered it's 'birth' to be in 1959, a Centennial Exposition was planned. Martin O'Malley became the Director of the Fair Corporation mainly as a means of keeping busy while staying out of the hair of his niece, who now ran the bridge. In his nineties, his job consisted mainly of looking at renderings of proposed fair buildings, but that he found quite interesting enough.

And so the stage was set for what could certainly be considered one of the 'great' world's fairs. The infrastructure was there to bring people from the four corners of the earth!, and come they did!

(to be continued)

The Alaska Pavilion at the 2059/2060 Centennial Exposition in Fairgate. Fairgate is the new Capital City that was constructed near Fairbanks.

The 2059/2060 Alaska Centennial Exposition.

(to be continued) [click to read]

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved


Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue IX


A Guide to the 2059/2060 Fair
The Sequel to PONTIFUS
By Bob Kirchman
Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved

Kate, Kris, Kris' daughter and Elizabeth Zimmerman had been looking forward to this reunion for a long time. Their upcoming visit to the Alaska Centennial Exhibition in Fairgate was, they expressed among themselves, somewhat transparent as an excuse. But even with the new rapid speed evacuated tube trains running through Big Diomede on the bridge, the luring of husbands to the ends of the earth required some doing. Kris and Elizabeth had an advantage here as Kris' husband was the pastor of the little church on Big Diomede and Elizabeth's husband was still tied to the work of the great bridge he had engineered.

Elizabeth's Niece, the little girl who inspired Elizabeth's father to embrace life with renewed hope and courage,  had by now succeeded him as chief engineer of the great bridge, but Martin O'Malley still kept regular office hours in Wales... mainly overseeing the apprenticeship of younger engineers in the manner of his deceased colleague, Rupert Zimmerman. It was a happy time. The great bridge and her economic vitality were indeed infusing something into the spirit of a hungry world. In centuries past it had been known as the 'Great Awakening.' Jonathan and Kris Greene had unwittingly followed in the footsteps of men like Jonathan Edwards. Indeed it almost seemed like the Divine's patience with mankind was finally paying off. The world in 2060 was a bit different than the prophets of doom had predicted.

There had indeed been wars, and even more rumors of war. The sins of mankind continued to play out on the world stage, and many suffered as a result. In the Northern hemisphere, Elizabeth Zimmerman's geothermal greenhouse farms, populated by refugees of these conflicts, offered a strong alternative! If the truth be known, more people around the world were discovering the 'hope and a future' that Rupert Zimmerman had first tasted over the Greene's macaroni and cheese! Though the news media was not reporting it. In every nation of the world, little 'Priscilla and Aquilla' groups were quietly changing the world.

Indeed, on a lazy Summer afternoon in a garden on Big Diomede, a group of ladies sharing sweet tea and sweet fellowship seemed to profess that all was right with the world. Yet, unlike the fat complacency of ages past, that had led to apathy and forgetfulness, they all shared that delicious feeling of anticipation! It was something like the feeling you have the day before your cherished daughter is given in marriage to a son-in-law who you yourself have come to love!

What could it be? The work in the world was far from finished, yet a new era of peace and prosperity seemed to be coming. With the world looking to the Northern Hemisphere for direction now, the Middle East was attempting to overcome her own convulsions with the establishment of the World Centre for Peace on the outskirts of Baghdad. The project of a young, charismatic visionary from Hungary, this could only help to settle the seemingly unending cycle of world violence...

But today, the light through the now mature trees of the biosphere was so... GOLDEN! so RICH! Not an ordinary day! And what was this? The MEN of these families were returning EARLY from their tour of 'Zimmerman's Folly.' That NEVER happened. The ladies had even put a later time on their reservations at Big Diomede's Asian restaurant for dinner that night, knowing full well that a short tour of the great bridge never was. Yet, the men too seemed to sense the wonder of the sunlight... and the desire to be close to their loved ones. Think of Christmas morning or the day of your wedding... or the last bell before the first day of Summer vacation... none of these can come close to the feeling our little company now shared.

Golden sunlight seemed to fill the little garden now. The hollyhocks had never seemed so brilliant! Each member of the little company breathed it in. Kate wished she could share this moment with her youngest cousin, who was still traveling to join them. There was something special in this moment. The little company seemed to have never felt such wonder before; they ALL felt it... and then they were gone! The brilliant gardens of Big Diomede where suddenly deserted!

(to be continued) [Click to Read]

The Bering Strait Bridge Under the Northern Lights.

Crozet World's Fair, NASA Pavilion
Lisburne Space Exploration Pavilion. Construction by A. Bowman.