Tuesday, June 28, 2016

CORVINUS V

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

AscentChapterpage002
Volume XI, Issue XXIV

He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future. Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it. The victor will never be asked if he told the truth.
-- Adolph Hitler ( יִמַּח שְׁמו )

Ransom’ was dying. He stood on the green of the college looking across time. It had been almost seven years since the disappearances and he had seen a small but dedicated students come through the institution and then go out to change the world. The latest to depart had been ‘Joe’ and Claudia, who left to pastor a group of Lakota in the ‘Lower 48.’ Claudia was part Lakota herself, so this was for her a return to her roots.

Joe’ had finished his sabbatical year and then become a teacher for a while as their daughter Lucy grew into a young girl. Now she would have playmates and adventures under the open sky. Mrs. Kinsinger went with them, as a mentor and a ‘grandmother’ to Lucy. ‘Ransom’ lovingly closed up the little parsonage house.

There was never any thought of him moving into the place, for ‘Ransom’ it held too many ghosts. Memories flooded the old man every time he walked past it… happy dinners with laughing children present… Macaroni and cheese, and wonderful conversation centered on the Magnificent One and His work! He was often seen walking among the hollyhocks now. The little garden refreshed the old man’s spirit.

He longed to go out once more to encourage the groups. Perhaps he would even pop in on ‘Joe’ and Claudia… no, too risky. He would not endanger their little family as there was always the possibility he would come followed by unwelcome guests!

The Way’ was more centered in Jerusalem now, for Israel still stubbornly resisted the one world government and the one world church, holding fast to a long-standing policy of religious freedom. The groups in CORVINUS, the capital of the world, were unfortunately, to put it mildly, a mess. CORVINUS was a city where not to aspire to power was a great sin and a lot of the city’s raw ambition and cunning were finding their way into the groups. A simple refresher course in the Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit seemed in order. That is why ‘Ransom’ found himself in the bustling city once more.

He had followed the usual circuitous path of travel into the city so as not to allow tracing to Big Diomede but as he presented himself to the oldest group in CORVINUS he realized the trap. Inquiring about old friends there he learned that all had come to some sort of unfortunate end. The people he spoke with now were unfortunately untrained in the basic truths of ‘The Way.’ Not only that, they seemed all too integrated with the decadent culture around them… flowing all too freely in and out of it.

Staying there for a time, he tried to rekindle the fire of interest in spiritual things. The talks in the groups were now more about tolerance for different lifestyles and the need to unite with the Worldstate religion. Too late he realized that he was simply a dangerous element that his present hosts would have to dispose of.

He was placed under house arrest and though he could have visitors he was no longer free to come and go. He had learned the old texts well enough that this came as no surprise to him. Younger members of the groups came quietly to the house and seemed truly eager to learn the Way of the Spirit, but the established leadership of the group now shunned him.

One day he answered his door to find armed ‘enforcers’ there. He was walked through the streets of CORVINUS in their custody. He noticed the cranes as the beautiful Alaskan capital was being fundamentally transformed now. Gargantuan skyscrapers and domes were taking shape around huge paved plazas that had been freshly slashed through the gentle city’s fabric. The designs seemed eerily taken from Albert Speer’s remaking of Berlin in the Twentieth Century. The result was brutally ugly.

Escorted through an oversized doorway into a disturbingly scaled hall, ‘Ransom’ found himself standing before Emperor Alexey Corvinus.

The interrogation was long and unpleasant. The Emperor wanted to know of his brother, of course, and secondly any information that might be used to suppress ‘The Way.’ ‘Ransom’ was tight-lipped and stiffened as Corvinus slapped him and threatened more severe punishment. Corvinus realized this was a man who would not give him the information he wanted… even as he was tortured to the point of death, so he chose to make him a public example.

The most severe punishment in Worldstate was beheading by the enforcers, but CORVINUS now saw himself as the leader of a revived Roman Empire. His younger brother had indeed installed him as a god in the minds of many in the inner circle. Soon the world would cast off all archaic entanglements and stand poised to enter a new millennium of progress. This great leap required the severance of old ties. No, beheading was not enough here. Roman history provided an even crueler and more public form of disposing with enemies of the state. ‘Ransom’ would be the first to taste it as it was reinstated in CORVINUS!

CORVINUS

(to be continued)

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

CORVINUS IV

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

AscentChapterpage001
Volume XI, Issue XXIII

People who inspire others are those who see invisible bridges at the end of dead-end streets.” – Charles R. Swindoll

It was an unseasonably beautiful day in early June and the biosphere was opened up to allow the sweet breeze to flow through it. The few remaining residents took the opportunity to wander out and enjoy the blooming tundra. Mister Bultitude had usually stayed in the company but now the old bear lifted his nose. There was change in the air and he started to wander. He somehow found himself walking toward the bridge. The older East-bound section had been closed indefinitely for extensive maintenance but there were no funds so it was simply closed. Power to the security cameras was even turned off. In any case it was not until a toll collector reported a bear wandering up the side of Cape Mountain that anyone saw him at all.

Ransom,’ who did not like confining the great bear, was concerned when he went missing but there was no way everyone could spread out looking for him. A bear doing pretty much anything in Alaska draws little or no suspicion. Humans in a line searching for him would. When the report came over bridge communication channels, ‘Ransom’ smiled. “Perhaps the old boy will follow in the footsteps of his namesake. Perhaps Worldstate is beginning to unravel.” ‘Joe’ was from Virginia, where there are plenty of wild bears. “Its JUNE, perhaps he’ll be like his namesake and find himself a lady bear!”

Ransom’ and ‘Joe’ walked the blooming hillside in the soft breeze. “I wish the great men and women were still with us.” Said ‘Joe.’ “Claudia and I feel so… INADEQUATE… if you know what I mean. Not at all like Dr. Greene… I mean, the torch has been passed to us of necessity but it seems sometimes that we walk in the shadow of giants… you know, we can NEVER be like them!”

We all feel that way,” ‘Ransom’ shot back, “but take the Greenes for example. I KNEW them… LOVED them. I need to tell you the story of their story. Zimmerman’s daughter Elizabeth hired a writer to come up here and write the story of the great bridge. When the manuscript was presented to her she shared it with the Greenes and her Father, the force behind the bridge. Mrs. Greene read her part of the story and didn’t say anything. Elizabeth was a close friend of Mrs. Greene and pressed her for her opinion anyway.

He made my character ‘TOO PERFECT’ the Pastor’s wife lamented. I’d really like to PULVERIZE him. He simply didn’t get it!”

Ransom’ continued; “You see, when the Greenes arrived on Big Diomede they were young and I think… kind of SCARED. They’d Pastored a church in the ‘lower 48’ and it was quite discouraging. I think they were ready to quit but Zimmerman was concerned that his bridge was developing a very unhealthy culture around itself. He knew some history so he decided to infuse some positive influence up here.

So the Greenes decided to give it one more try, but they came up here to a raw construction site. Everyone was of the tough rugged individualist school and they never darkened the door of the church. Mrs. Greene was quite lonely and she would tell you that she had pretty much screamed at the top of her lungs one day that if nothing changed she was headed back to Virginia, where she came from.

But her pain became a portal. As she saw her house rise from the muddy ground inside the biosphere, she looked to the bustling service plaza and saw the loneliness of the ladies working there. She took a job there and befriended a lot of them. She listened to their stories and led many of them to see new hope for their lives. Then she saw the vile trade in human servitude that went on in this lawless frontier and she devised a way to lead some of those girls out of it and into a new life. She had quite a bit of design talent which inspired her to create the little shops under the dormitory. Here the girls created fashions as they allowed the Divine to recreate their very lives.

Compressed into a story it seems so wondrous and complete, but there were missteps and numerous disappointments. Many people didn’t understand her and derided the work she did. That’s hard to believe now but read the full volumes of any history and you’ll find this true. Being a pioneer generally means you will be lonely and misunderstood at times. Perseverance is a wondrous thing, really, and most real success and innovation is simply believing in your mission and staying true to it… even as you walk alone.

By the time Big Diomede became a tourist stop she had many ladies around her who out of their own changed lives were helping her with the open air Bible lessons she taught. But I don’t think anyone really knows how much perseverance it took to get to that point.

She even thought about those of us who would follow her, and rumor has it she painted a little mural somewhere in the parsonage for its next occupants. Have you, perchance, found it… or is that just one of the stories that has grown up around her?” ‘Joe’ shook his head. “You would think with a four-year old in the house we would have scoped out everything.”

*******
A few days later, ‘Joe’ walked into the old parsonage to find his wife in a bit of a panic; “Have you seen Lucy?” she asked, “She’s been gone for about forty minutes. I was busy with some baking and then I realized she wasn’t in the house!” “Have you searched?” ‘Joe’ said in reply. “Of course! I have looked through the whole house, starting with the closets!” “Well,” said ‘Joe,’ I think it is time we think like a four-year old and search again.” They made their way through the house once more and when they got to the little attic bedroom they paused. Here in the half-wall paneling a piece was pushed slightly askew. Claudia crept closer. There was a small shaft of light coming from the crack.

She and ‘Joe’ looked in with amazement. Here was a simple closet in an eve space, but it created a child-sized place. Lucy was talking. They wanted to listen in. “We knew the story,” Claudia whispered, “but I wondered why we never found it.” Lucy sat in the small lighted closet with her stuffed animal ‘luvvies’ in front of a painting. It was a small mural but it filled the back of the closet. “We never found it because we never thought as a child!” Here in what had been, obviously, the first Queen Lucy’s bedroom was a mural that was really more of a magical portal for it depicted the world of C. S. Lewis’s Narnia!

Surveying all, from the clouds at the top of the painting was the majestic Lion, Aslan! There was the great sea, the Dawn Treader making sail and Cair Paravel. Here were green hills and majestic mountains and in the foreground four children greeted a faun carrying an umbrella and a parcel under a street lamp in a snowy wood. “So, Kris Greene really DID leave a painting in the house!” Claudia said softly. “We knew she painted ‘The School of Athens’ at the college but we just sort of forgot about the other story.”

One can only imagine Kris’ little daughter playing here for hours, just like Lucy is doing. It is remarkable! How fortunate is any little girl who is so blessed!” Indeed, Lucy would now spend hours here with her stuffed ‘luvvies,’ taking them with her into this magical world where animals talked.

Kris had other young mothers in the old biosphere,” Claudia said to ‘Joe’ one day. “Lucy needs other children.” Indeed ‘Joe’ was beginning to sense that portals, when you found them, were not something to be guarded, but were meant to be walked through. He and ‘Ransom’ talked about this quite a bit now as it turned out.

*******
Mátyás Corvinus was growing restless too. He had gone out some to encourage the groups but cautiously. It was pretty well established that his status as ‘missing’ was preventing a wholesale crackdown on the followers of ‘The Way.’ “Mátyás, you can do the most good here by taking my place. I am not well. My old life weighs in heavily upon me now and I do not know how long I shall be in this world. I am ready to step into Eternity… dare I say that I am quite looking forward to it! But I do think you most important in what you are doing here. Please, in any case, consider it.”

Mátyás thought of his two brothers. He WANTED them to know the peace he had found, but saw the greater good to be had as he remained hidden. Somehow he had the feeling he would have to confront them, but for now there was a great work to be done right where he was. He smiled as he allowed himself to be overtaken by contentment. The evening sun cast a golden light through the dome and the trees and walls glowed with its warmth. The little horses grazed on the college green. Little Lucy skipped out onto the green from her front door, having just returned from Narnia in time for dinner! Her parents followed her out the door and each took one of her hands as together they walked to the refectory.

(to be continued) [click to read]

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

CORVINUS III

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

CorvinusChapterpage003
Volume XI, Issue XXII

Nella fantasia io vedo un mondo giusto,
Lì tutti vivono in pace e in onestà.
Io sogno d’anime che sono sempre libere,
Come le nuvole che volano,
Pien’ d’umanità in fondo all’anima.

Nella fantasia io vedo un mondo chiaro,
Lì anche la notte è meno oscura.
Io sogno d’anime che sono sempre libere,
Come le nuvole che volano.

Nella fantasia esiste un vento caldo,
Che soffia sulle città, come amico.
Io sogno d’anime che sono sempre libere,
Come le nuvole che volano,
Pien’ d’umanità in fondo all’anima.

-- Nella Fantasia

Five hundred miles to the East, in the city of Fairgate… now renamed CORVINUS (in all capitals), another discussion of marriage was taking place. It had been a year since Alexey had BANNED it. Officials of Worldstate were forbidden to enter into marriage because Corvinus thought that it took away from their focus as officials and enforcers of the new world order. Throughout the wider Worldstate, it had been defined as pretty much anything you wanted. You could marry another of your own gender, or have multiple wives in succession. In government service however family was an unnecessary burden and after a long period of discouraging it with little effect, Corvinus simply banned it.

Younger brother, Corvinus the Prophet did his part. No marriages would be performed for Worldstate officials in the state church. This decree led to a surge in vacations to Israel, a land where the joy of the bride and bridegroom seemed to be rooted in the very fabric of the land. The state in turn restricted travel to Israel. This was a great disappointment, not only to young couples but to history buffs who wanted to see the construction progressing on the new Temple. Indeed, Israel seemed to be one of the last societies with any of the old freedoms intact. To a lesser degree, the Siberian Autonomous Republic held on to some basic freedoms but only for its own small population. It became a carefully monitored corridor for transport but not much else.

As ‘Joe’ went out to encourage the small groups, he found himself more and more asked to perform secret weddings. This is how he came to be called ‘Valentine.’ In 278A.D. a minister of ‘The Way’ had defied a similar edict by the Roman Emperor Claudius the Cruel and was put to death for performing marriages anyway. ‘Valentine’ as ‘Joe’ came to be known, would arrive in a place to minister and often have an eager queue of couples waiting for him. Though he rejoiced in this new office, he secretly wished on more than one occasion that he could simply be the groom!

The work of the Eternal Kingdom, however, left little time for socialization. How ‘Valentine’ missed the walks in the gardens of Big Diomede and the stories of Mrs. Greene and ‘Queen Lucy!’ He reassured himself that it was a noble thing to give this gift to others… but still his heart ached. Hidden in plain sight, he walked across the great bridge across the Tanana River in CORVINUS one day, surrounded by bustling officious souls, but quite alone. He was the only one to notice.

She stood on a railing of the bridge, hidden from casual gazes by the gargantuan light fixture she clung to… watching the icy river flow beneath her. She was a young government official, but she had entered into this life wearing rose colored glasses. Now, after seeing her ‘liberated’ state as nothing more than a dull and endless servitude, she had been cast aside by her last lover, a mid-level Corvinus enforcement chief. Though she wore the close-cropped hair and the genderless garments of a Worldstate official, her heart still stirred within her. Of late she had given up the drugs… she suspected there was another life within her and some maternal instinct drove her to do that.

The new clarity of mind that resulted from her decision was simply more than she was ready for. She could not simply present herself at the state health clinic to have her problem ‘dealt with,’ yet she saw no way to continue. She had found a copy of ‘Notes to Priscilla and Aquilla’ and tried to read it but her Worldstate conditioned mind solidly resisted. It was best, she thought, to end it all. Life was short and meaningless anyway. Surely this was for the best.

Valentine’ resisted the urge to climb up there with her. He was already known on Big Diomede for being ‘the reckless one.’ Staying hidden in plain sight was an art form and ‘Valentine’ was way too careless at it. Official Worldstate policy was that suicide was a noble act as you were stepping out of the way of others who needed the world’s limited resources. Society seemed to have lost the lessons learned in the great farms of the tundra. In the end, ‘Valentine’ was won by the core of his mission, that “Not any should perish!” He quietly climbed up with her.

After what seemed an awkward eternity, the two slipped down into the plodding crowd on the bridge. Most walked head down and if anyone saw them they probably assumed them to be complicit in a lovers’ suicide pact anyway… best for such to go ahead and jump in the river. But no one seemed to notice that they didn’t jump and slipped back into the throng. “Oh well, they’ll probably go through with it on another day.”

There was a little park on the riverbank and the two made their way to a place that was quite alone. The sound of the river made monitoring difficult here and the two talked. ‘Valentine’ was amazingly able to answer her questions. Her name was Claudia and she had come to CORVINUS to pursue her career. She was from Iowa in the ‘Lower 48’ originally, the child of hard working farmers who had tried to instill in her a sense of family. At her young age she had rebelled against their ‘archaic’ ways and their beliefs, but now she had been able to compare and contrast. Though her parents had been taken by the disappearances, it was they and not Worldstate who spoke clearest to her!

And Claudia gave herself to becoming a disciple of ‘The Way.’

Valentine’ met with the leaders of the church in CORVINUS. Surely it was best that Claudia disappear from the city because of her high profile. There was not much time to think about it but ‘Valentine’ and his partner in ministry were now scheduled to leave in a sealed freight container. They would head East into Canadian territory before obtaining a similar ride to Big Diomede. Claudia begged for a way out of CORVINUS and in the end, the two decided to include her in their cramped quarters. About a week later Claudia, blindfolded, was escorted by ‘Ransom’ through the tunnel into the biosphere.

Valentine’ took a brief rest and was gone again to encourage people someplace in the world, but Claudia became one of ‘The More Perfect Way’s’ greatest students. One day, some months later, she sat at a mirror in the ‘Northern Lights’ studio releasing her now lengthening hair. She rejoiced in remembering how it had cascaded to her shoulders in her Iowa youth and knew it would one day caress her shoulders once more. Her changing profile drove her to Mrs. Greene’s studio on a fairly regular basis now as she needed to find… in every sense of the word… a more expanded wardrobe. “How wonderful!” she thought, “to have a clothing line right here under the dormitory!” She jumped as Mrs. Kinsinger, the older lady ‘Ransom’ had brought to Big Diomede as her mentor, stepped into the room. She fumbled rapidly, attempting to place her hair back into the ‘Worldstate bun’ that her station outside the biosphere required, but she failed and gave a little groan. Kinsiger smiled and stroked the fallen hair gently.

Is it wrong of me to think so much of ‘Joe,’ er, ‘Valentine?’” she lamented. For indeed she had been caught in the act of ‘being feminine,’ a practice Worldstate did not, for its part, want to encourage. Here in the biosphere, Mama Greene’s rule superceded. Indeed femininity was a noble and good thing to be cherished. Greene’s influence was fondly and reverently remembered.

Kinsinger smiled, for she had seen all the signs of this coming. Everyone in the biosphere could, even ‘Ransom.’ “’Joe’ has spent a lot more time on the road lately. In fact ‘Ransom’ is about to force him to take a sabbatical! He pretends not to notice you, but every little handwritten note you give him he cherishes. Notice how quickly he responds in kind. I can assure you he is asking ‘Ransom’ the same sort of questions with which you pummel me! The Divine has His paints out, dear sister, and he loves to paint!”

Indeed, ‘Joe’ was on a mission to the Middle-East and was about to return in the next few days. Claudia was running out of the little notes in envelopes that he always left, ostensibly to ‘encourage’ her, but that always seemed to be in adequate supply for a ‘daily letter’ from a man who could use no public form of messaging.

We need to pray ‘Joe’ will have his ‘Stone Mountain Moment,’” Mrs. Kinsinger continued, referring to the storm on the great mountain in which the hard man who had built the great bridge proposed to his own dear wife. The story was part of the legend of the biosphere along with the mountain walk in which the Greenes became a couple. The Greenes, to their credit, had not required thunder and lightning! ‘Joe’ was a man focused on his mission. Some pyrotechnics might need to be employed.

*******
Joe’s’ return to the biosphere came as expected, but instead of a casual conversation, he retired to his room without speaking to anyone. Claudia’s heart fell. Returning to her room, she saw the little envelope. In it was a simple invitation from ‘Joe:’ “Will you join me for dinner in the old president’s office?” was the only message. There was plenty of time provided to “pretty up” and Claudia shamelessly ransacked the ‘Northern Lights’ collection in the process. Two hours later she arrived at the paneled room that had been Jonathan Greene’s office and study. A fire blazed in the fireplace as ‘Joe’ met her, dressed in his finest dinner clothes. He had prepared the meal himself and seated her, serving the soup course and then he took his place.

Joe’ did not hesitate, but spoke from his heart. The dinner and conversation lasted long into the night. The ‘long distance relationship’ that ‘Joe’ had contrived really left little to be said in words, but much to be said by the eyes and the tender touch of a hand upon a hand. ‘Joe’ was indeed taking an extended sabbatical. He needed to put down in writing some of what he was teaching to the various groups. More importantly, he said: “I need to learn how to be a father.”

In the days that followed, Claudia found herself taking dictation and smoothing ‘Joe’s’ manuscripts. He was a hard but kind taskmaster and the two grew closer. One day he surprised her by insisting that they take a little break and walk in the tundra flowers. Though a storm rumbled in the distance it was a strangely warm and calm day and the sunlight played brilliantly off of the verdant summer hillside. ‘Joe’ pulled a little box from his pocket… he wanted to do this a little more stylishly than Zimmerman…

Though there was at the time no one who knew how to play the old pipe organ in the stone chapel, ‘Ransom’ found some old computer files where Greene had made midis of his playing the organ. They were sometimes accompanied by him and his wife singing duets and the combination of high quality voice rendition and the signal playing the actual organ made for a rich combination. There was not a dry eye in the little chapel as ‘Joe’ and Claudia became one. The music files were an added blessing as they had been forgotten for some time. It was as if the Greenes had returned from Heaven to bless the festivities.

Mrs. Greene and her husbands’ beautiful voices joined in the beautiful old song:

In my fantasy I see a just world,
Where everyone lives in peace and honesty.
I dream of souls that are always free
Like the clouds that float
Full of humanity in the depths of the soul.

In my fantasy I see a bright world
Where each night there is less darkness.
I dream of spirits that are always free,
Like the clouds that float

In my fantasy exists a warm wind,
That blows into the city, like a friend.
I dream of souls that are always free,
Like the clouds that float
Full of humanity in the depths of the soul.

The ceremony was beautiful and required many tissues. When it was over the couple had another surprise awaiting them. ‘Ransom’ knew that the young couple needed better accommodations than those provided by the dormitory houses but didn’t want to relegate them to the untended housing stock in the biosphere outside the college grounds. He wrestled with this for some time, not wanting to disturb or rekindle sacred memories, but in the end he and Mrs. Kinsinger lovingly cleaned and dusted the old parsonage and on the wedding day its lights blazed once more.

They named their daughter Lucy and once more the little biosphere had a queen!

KrisHouse
Kris' house on Big Diomede. Graphic by Bob Kirchman

(to be continued) [click to read]

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

CORVINUS II

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

CorvinusChapterpage002
Volume XI, Issue XXI

This confusion is continually present in language as we use it. We appear to be saying something very important about something: and actually we are only saying something about our own feelings.”
– ‘Gaius and Titius’ in ‘The Green Book’
as quoted by C. S. Lewis in ‘The Abolition of Man

Indeed it was hard to find much ‘normal’ anymore in the world outside of the little biosphere. There was still much religion to be found, but it was mostly about feelings and little about truth. Coleridge at the waterfall, where one man called it ‘sublime’ and another ‘pretty’ would be hard pressed to express his disgust to the great thinkers of Worldstate, who scoffed at the notion of great truths and great aspirations (beyond the promotion of Worldstate). The world of art and literature had been pushed towards new levels of banality in the works funded by state. Intelligentsia wrote eloquent reviews of ‘brilliant’ works that were frankly undeserving of such accolades but served well the mission of subverting the whole notion of ‘sublime.’

Dr. Greene had asked his librarians to collect images of the great works, which now became important even as Worldstate quietly let them be forgotten if not outright destroyed by the hands of the ‘enforcers.’ The students studied the works inspired by Man’s nobler aspirations even as major galleries presented empty rooms and torn canvasses as ‘significant art.’

Many in the wider world felt a new level of hopelessness. In times past, noble values and virtues filtered out from the Faithful to enrich their society. Many had taken this virtue for granted as something inherent in the supposed ‘goodness of man.’ They were sorely disappointed in the ‘new human’ wrought by Worldstate. All too soon it was clear that men without a moral compass needed more supervision and restraint than a society could provide short of creating a climate of fear and oppression. Alexey Corvinus assured the people of the world that their ‘temporary sacrifice’ would usher in the great new world that was now finally possible.

Indeed it was necessary to provide ‘bread and circuses’ handed out with the most lavish oratory (talk being cheap), so that the people would comply with the added restrictions caused by the inevitable shortages. Joining the ‘enforcers’ gave you access to more necessities. Resisting them put you at the end of the line. The state was the provider of what little there was. Local community became increasingly irrelevant in the centralized Worldstate economy.

Gone were the myriad of local greenhouse farms where vegetables were grown without chemicals and genetic modification, being locally produced. Great collectives and industrial farms produced large quantities of pallid produce that was “shipable.” The chemical laden methods of the Twentieth Century were returned to as the great companies that produced chemicals and super seeds became public/private entities. The freedom won in the Alaska Revolution and the Northern Territories was lost. In a few corners of the Tundra there were people preserving heirloom species, but they were now considered almost as dangerous as those who adhered to ‘The Way.’

In fact, it was tempting to bury oneself in the monastic beauty of the biosphere and forget the world outside. One could find great solace among the ever-blooming gardens and the rich libraries.  ‘Ransom’ felt that that would be a great wrong. “Think of the level of substance abuse, domestic violence and suicide out there.” He said. “The world is seeing what it is like to live without the influence of the Divine, and they are not rejoicing over it. In fact, they seem quite lost when their diversions or their drunkenness are not present. We have a mandate. Though they have no love for us now, they too are those who the Master sacrificed His own life to redeem.”

Indeed ‘The Way,’ though much suppressed, continued to grow in followers and ‘Ransom’ often travelled to faraway places to encourage them, often riding in the cargo compartments of ‘sealed’ transport. ‘Joe’ was beginning to venture out as well. They would go out by twos and though they told many a harrowing story they always came home bringing reason to rejoice.

A Walk in the Garden

Joe,’ though he indeed was seeing fruit in his work, was restless. ‘Ransom’ sensed this and as they walked along the green one day he asked him about it. “Is it wrong of me to desire to find a wife… be married and all?” ‘Joe’ answered, returning question for question. ‘Ransom’ had quite naturally put that consideration aside, but empathized with his young friend’s concern. “In the past, the church often erred by promoting the celebate life as the way to ministry. Paul the Apostle wrote that it was good to be ‘as he was,’ but it is likely that he had been married earlier and his singleness at the time was not necessarily voluntary. It is likely that his wife died or that he was cast out of his community and suffered a divorce as a result of coming to ‘The Way.’ In any case, it was good for him as he traveled and endured beatings and imprisonment.

That said, it is NOT a prerequisite for ministry. In fact, Paul speaks often of his friends and colleagues in ministry: Priscilla and Aquilla. It is no mistake that he mentions them together and it is no mistake that her name is often mentioned first, for they TOGETHER taught ‘The More Perfect Way.’ The Divine is Spirit and Male and Female are created in His image. Thus it was a mistake for the church to discount the importance of women as image-bearers. The ‘enforcers’ diminish their women to the place of objects and that is highly disturbing.They are most indeed the poorer for it.

No doubt, you are drawn to the flowers, birds and butterflies here. They and a number of pleasant things here owe their existence to Mrs. Greene. Clearly there is a feminine side to expression of the Glory of G-d and we are privileged to experience it, although vicariously at the present moment.

You are not necessarily right or wrong to desire a wife, but you are honest! The Magnificent One will honor that and you should freely share that with Him in your heart.”

Joe’ replied: “I honestly desire a partner in life, yet we are at a time in history that one would call ‘unprecedented times.’ “ALL times are unprecedented,” ‘Ransom’ replied. “That is why we study so much history here. We learn that at Israel’s darkest moment… when the people were carried off to Persia and the Kingdom destroyed, the prophet told the people to plant vines, build houses and marry and give in marriage. We are always to seek the prosperity of the place we are planted. I cannot tell you how to proceed here, as you know we are a community of MEN, yet as you go out into the wider world, it might be that you will be surprised by joys you cannot now anticipate.”

But might there be sorrows as well?” said ‘Joe.’ “Yes,” said ‘Ransom,’ “I think you will find that in this life, joy and sorrow often walk hand in hand. From my own life though, I can tell you: It is a mistake to shut out joy in an effort to insulate yourself from sorrow. In the end you will have missed blessing and that in itself is the most bitter of all sorrows.”

*******
In the Garden
Charles A. Miles, 1913, Public Domain

IMG_5463
In the Garden. Photo by Bob Kirchman

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

Refrain:
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

Refrain:
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

I’d stay in the garden with Him,
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

Refrain:
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

IMG_5439
Oak branches in snow. Photo by Bob Kirchman

(to be continued) [click to read]

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved

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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

CORVINUS I

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

THYMECORVINIS
Volume XI, Issue XX

CorvinusChapterpage001

The Brothers Corvinus
The Sequel to PONTIFUS and 
NOVUS VIA
By Bob Kirchman
Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” – C. S. Lewis

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream” – C. S. Lewis.

I have found a desire within myself that no experience in this world can satisfy; the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C. S. Lewis

Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there. It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime." – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Mister Bultitude’s birthday celebration was going on. The little college always celebrated this event, beginning on November 22 and ending on November 29th. In a happier time, the event was always punctuated by Thanksgiving Break, and the students would return to their families and more festivities. This was actually a celebration initiated by Mrs. Greene and the great bear was feted with her famous blueberry cake. The students would read C. S. Lewis’s ‘The Abolition of Man’ in preparation and they would use the old Gothic chapel as a backdrop as they acted out portions of the novel “That Hideous Strength.”

In happier times, the female students would fill the roles of Jane, Mother Dimble, Ivy Maggs and Major Hardcastle, but now there were only the few men remaining, so the dramatic readings were more subdued. In any case, Lewis’s dystopia had become all too real and this portion of the celebration now loomed even more as a call to action. They were still carried out in the evening with the great window of the chapel illuminated from within and soft “blue” lighting on the old stone without.

Ransom’ explained to Mátyás that his pseudonym was actually lifted from the book and he felt it really described his life. There was a clear picture in his mind of how the Magnificent One had ‘become sin’ for him and had indeed lovingly renewed his twisted life. ‘Ransom’ was not his real name at all. The hard-living maintenance supervisor of the college had retreated there from a failed marriage and failed recovery from substance abuse. Finally, in the climate of giving love and high expectations provided by the college shops, he had been clean for five years at the time of the disappearances. Even on warm days, he always wore an old sweater. He dressed for dinner in a long-sleeved jacket and tie. Anticipating the question he explained that he had been a special forces operative in his younger days... a tough man who had killed people. His arms were covered with tattoos!

Sadly, ‘Ransom’ had resisted the underlying Source of that love and felt he had simply had a ‘lucky break’ in coming here. He silently kept the walls up to prevent his consideration of any absolute unseen realities, but Greene, the president of the college, had planted a seed. It took root in the days following Greene’s mysterious departure, and now ‘Ransom’ was indeed the heir of his great work. Indeed it was the LOVE, freely extended by the residents of this place, to the broken girls as they learned the perfumer's art and fashion design and to him and his fellow maintenance men. Sometimes you'd find yourself working alongside a man like Zimmerman, who had built the great bridge, but he picked up litter and changed light bulbs with the rest of the crew. It was a community, Greene had said, not unlike that of the American frontier days. Everyone cared for everyone else. There was what Greene would call an overwhelming sense of IMAGO DEI, the stamp of the Divine on each member of the little village.

We are all wounded adopted children of the Master,” ‘Ransom’ said to Corvinus one evening as they strolled to the refectory. “Your conflicted feelings are not necessarily reflective of what is true about you, but they speak of areas where you might seek healing. All of us here have a story and if we examine ours with some honesty, we will see the Master speaking into it. We fit badly into this world, it is true, but let me tell you a secret… we were made for a better world!

Bear_web
Illustration by Kristina Elaine Greer.

Mátyás Corvinus had been born in Hungary. He was the oldest of three brothers and the three became known in their village for their daring exploits. Mátyás was the thinker. Middle brother Alexey was the one who often led them into great adventures and the youngest was reflective in a different manner. As youths, the three had managed to make their way across the Eurasian continent one summer hiding in rail cars. That this feat was considered quite impossible fired a bit of a legend about them in the minds of their fellow villagers. The Summer that the boys simply disappeared, only to show up in Madagan, far into Siberia, earned them not only beatings from their abusive father, but the unspoken admiration of every adolescent in their circle.

At university, the three excelled at football (soccer) and their studies. Mátyás studied Government and Philosophy, Alexey business and finance and the youngest gravitated toward theology and Philosophy. Alexey entered government as the others continued their studies. He served in the local assembly as he built a small communications company. Eventually He became the Prime Minister and the owner of most of the wireless network serving the Bering Strait Bridge Highway in Siberia.

The youngest became a priest in Poland and eventually was in the College of Cardinals. He was considered to be in line for the Papacy by some.

Mátyás, upon his graduation from university, was appointed as an ambassador to the United Nations by his brother. Here is charm and ambition set him on a path that would likely have him in line to be Secretary General one day. There were a few millionaire-philanthropists who longed to build a world federal state. They saw the brothers Corvinus as the means to that end. The silent investment of their new ‘partners’ insured that everything the brothers touched turned to gold.

Their path assured, the brothers Corvinus enjoyed all the pleasures and prestige this world had to offer. Their ‘handlers’ groomed them for a world crisis where they would take charge and offer solutions. When certain world leaders and the bulk of opposition were overcome, they would make their move.

That opposition became more and more defined in the years proceeding the ‘disappearances.’

Summarized, they might be seen as those who believed in any sort of reality greater than what was seen. Religion was useful to control human behavior, but dangerous if it motivated one to believe that there were things worth dying for. God, country and family could motivate those who loved them to reckless sacrifice.

Besides, such oversight of the human condition was easy to cast as ‘oppressive.’ You couldn’t enjoy the rich pleasures of the world because of archaic restraints. Many young people were all too ready to cast off the chains of restraint and define their lives in new ways. Society could now engineer the reality to match one’s personal preferences and ‘old thought’ stood squarely in the path of progress.

Government could better care for human needs and reduce the pull such philosophies had on their followers. Replace the community coming together to rebuild a barn or care for a sick child with a centralized solution and you dulled the pull of localism and faith. Though initially there would be sacrifices to be made, the more equitable distribution of resources through a centralized state would usher in a brave new world. All would be equal (though those who built the new world should enjoy reward for doing so). Refocus those individuals who sought significance through martyrdom into ‘enforcers’ of the new world order and you took that which created chaos and turned it to promoting peace!

As the United Nations continued to degenerate into an unruly collection of representatives for the despots of the world, Mátyás created the Centre for World Peace on the banks of the Euphrates and Tigress Rivers to begin this final solution to the world’s woes.

The problem that wouldn’t go away was the ‘thinkers’ who persisted in the notion that a ‘better world’ awaited them beyond what they saw. The disappearances had indeed decimated their ranks, but there appeared to be resistance still. The failed attempt to destroy Israel had resulted in the displacement of Mátyás Corvinus and his great work. His return to the Middle-East to suppress the opposition had resulted in something no one but the troublesome ‘Divine’ could have anticipated.

The three-legged stool of power was wobbling awkwardly. The leader of the Centre for World Peace and his crew were missing. Resources were concentrated by Alexey and Worldstate officials in the Middle-East. Israel was suspected in the disappearance of Corvinus, but in actuality knew nothing of it. Their investigation was thorough and convincing. They shared their findings freely with Worldstate.

Of course, the remaining brothers KNEW the likely true cause of their brother’s disappearance and as Worldstate bore down on followers of ‘The Way,’ they restrained their violence and sought to learn more of the structure of the group. Indeed it seemed to be centered in those nations which still practiced religious freedom, such as Israel and Kurdistan, rather than the more enlightened way of ‘tolerance,’ where you could freely practice your beliefs but you had better not interject them into the workings of the greater society. The violence of suppressing ‘The Way’ was temporary anyway and if they would just return Mátyás Corvinus, dead or alive, they would be eventually eliminated in due time. For now, it was necessary to keep open some channels of communication, for indeed it was likely that the eldest Corvinus was a hostage… and his life was in great danger.

What made the work of tracking down ‘The Way’ was the absence of wireless communication. Monitoring hard-wired infrastructure yielded nothing as well. Worldstate was at a loss. A movement that did not build itself on social media or public media was something no-one could monitor. Friend told friend. Books of Holy Scripture were not being printed. That was controlled by the government now. Men like ‘Ransom’ would learn passages and recite them verbally for their pupils in various places. These people would copy them and learn them for themselves, destroying the paper version when it was securely in their own minds. The verses contained in the ‘Notes to Priscilla and Aquilla” would be committed to memory, but the book itself was simply used as a guide to them. Many ‘Priscilla and Aquilla’ groups were meeting now with no visible evidence of that work in hand, simply the knowledge it guided to committed to the heart.

Though various threats and rewards were put forth by Worldstate, the likely fact that Mátyás was a hostage resulted in an effective truce. Local ‘enforcers’ still took it upon themselves to kill followers of ‘The Way,’ but official persecution was at a standstill.

Who wrote the “Notes to Priscilla and Aquilla?” Matyas asked ‘Ransom’ in one of their evening strolls together. He was surprised to be told: “We really don’t know. It is pretty certain that Dr. Greene DIDN’T write it, but it is suspiciously similar to the writings of his wife. She was a gifted novelist among other things, but no-one can be certain. In any case, there was a certain desire that the work be anonymous.

We have been looking at the Letters of Paul and Peter in our formal classes and how modern thinkers want to assign multiple-authorship and such to diminish their importance. All of these thinkers forget that the works were dictated and there was a certain desire of the human author to stand out of the way of the Divine revelation. Though our little guide is certainly NOT Divine in authorship, we see its anonymity as trying to stand out of the way of Divine revelation as well. That is why we use it to guide us to Scripture, then we purposefully discard it as we let Scripture teach us deeper things about itself.

You and ‘Joe’ here are on a path so that you yourself will be the guides… sort of like the book ‘Fahrenheit 451, where the books are banned and the people ‘become’ the books. [1.] That is the purpose of the wretched memorization, for one day you will leave here and carry nothing with you on your person to identify you as one of us.” Joe interjected: “so, will we teach what is inside us or simply answer questions from this reservoir or knowledge? How exactly will our fellow pilgrims be able to use what we have preserved?”

Ransom’ Answered: “We are purposefully vague about that process because we see it as requiring the direction of that same Spirit that made this knowledge available to us in the first place. If we were to prescribe a method, we might perchance find ourselves unwittingly suppressing a move of that same Spirit. Joe, you and Mátyás are both examples of a conversion that occurred outside of the ‘normal’ way of doing things. I think if you look at your own stories you will discover what I mean.”

Borealis_Master_web
Many people never realized that the 'Northern Lights' fashions and cosmetics were actually produced in Big Diomede...

Northernlightsfashionsad
...largely due to a very cosmopolitan advertising strategy.

(to be continued) [click to read]

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

NOVUS VIA XIII

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Damacus002
Volume XI, Issue XIX

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” – Psalm 91:1

And so the man whom all assumed to be the ‘Beast’ of Revelation came quietly to the little group of disciples on Big Diomede. ‘BSB One’ landed on the abandoned strip after a coded assurance was flashed with a mirror from the ground. The pilots of Zimmerman’s operation had always maintained an edge by simply remembering old ways of doing things. After his communications had all dropped out on the bridge years ago, Zimmerman had insisted that ‘old fashioned’ backups be employed. Thus his pilots knew semaphore code and periodically dropped out their ‘new’ technology on purpose to keep themselves alert.

The Worldstate Plane was left untouched on the abandoned runway. ‘Ransom’ concluded that any attempt to embellish the story it told would make it more suspicious anyway. Any one of a myriad of rebel forces operating in the area could have abducted the crew and the subsequent investigation would divert Worldstate resources for quite some time. ‘Ransom’ for his part was becoming quite at home with the whole “hidden in plain sight” phenomenon. Someday it might cost him his life… but he longed ever more to hear the commendation: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” from the Master.

Of more immediate concern to ‘Ransom’ was the safety of his fellows. He felt sure of Corvinus’ changed heart, but could he risk others’ lives on his own feelings. Here was a man who had killed many of his fellow pilgrims. Yet here was a working of the Divine that was not at all unprecedented.

As Corvinus and ‘Ransom’ prayed together, Mátyás had indeed seen his sight restored! Still, ‘Ramsom’ wrestled with what to do with his new disciple. In the end he brought him blindfolded to Big Diomede where he was coldly and cautiously received by the company. Indeed some were present who had seen loved ones murdered by this man’s decree so all found themselves asking if the Divine could change a life.

Not the least of these was Corvinus himself. ‘Ransom’ was working beside him in the kitchen, preparing the institute’s signature macaroni and cheese. Corvinus, though born and bred to power, was taking a liking to manual work and that encouraged his mentor greatly. “Is it possible for G-d to forgive one such as me, so ‘unnaturally born’ into His Kingdom?” he asked. ‘Ransom’ was stabbed to the heart, for he still wrestled with his feelings for this man who was now his apprentice. Yet he answered by drawing a vertical bar graph. The bars were of varying heights and ‘Ransom’ wrote the names of the various sins under them. Murder and deceit rose pretty high. Genocide was the tallest. Petty theft ranked not so much, but there was definitely a range of possibilities. “This is how WE see sin, here among the sinners.” Then ‘Ransom’ drew a second graph. This time populated only by uniform squares in a row. “This is how the DIVINE sees sin,” said the man, “from ABOVE. He sees not the degree, only the sin! Thus it is within His way of seeing that your redemption is possible!”

sins

He then told the story of slaver John Newton, who had destroyed at least as many lives as Corvinus in his day. Newton, in his changed life, became a great minister of the Gospel that had brought change to him. He had written the great hymn: “Amazing Grace” to the tune of the ‘slave notes,’ those notes found in African music. Indeed, ‘Ransom’ noted, REDEMPTION was one of the Divine’s most cherished works!

What of my two brothers?” Corvinus asked another time as the two walked to dinner in the golden evening light. ‘Ransom’ caught himself for a moment, then said: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” “That promise is in Peter’s second letter and it is true. He has certainly shown that patience to me. I do not know what will happen with your brothers… that battle must be won within each of their own hearts. To be sure, there are those who reject the gracious hand of the Divine and we see from this writing that it causes Him sorrow.

I do not know why this is so, but it should be contrasted with the forced compliance that is the bedrock of your Worldstate. You yourself have said that it is not freedom and you discovered, you said too late, that it wrought no change in your heart. Without the continual oversight of Worldstate, mankind was destined to descend into chaos. The Divine, in contrast, rules very little from without, but if allowed to do so He brings great change within.

As a ruler of that former world, you enjoyed unlimited access to pleasures and power, but did it complete you? No, for most certainly your recognition of a void in your heart has led you here. Here our life is simple, but our simple pleasures fill us richly.”

And so, Mátyás Corvinus became a student of the Way.

This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of G-d the Heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

But the Heavens and the Earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of G-d, wherein the Heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new Heavens and a new Earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” – 2 Peter 3

(to be continued) [click to read]

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved

evenlight

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

NOVUS VIA XII

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Damacus001
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.”

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

Fairgatemap

(to be continued) [click to read]

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

NOVUS VIA XI

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Chapterpage003LongRoad
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.’

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(to be continued) [click to read]

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