Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue XX


The Brothers Corvinus
The Sequel to PONTIFUS and 
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!

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.”

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

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

(to be continued) [click to read]


Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

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!”


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


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) [click to read]


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