Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

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!


(to be continued) [click to read]

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved


Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

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


Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

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!

Kris' house on Big Diomede. Graphic by Bob Kirchman

(to be continued) [click to read]

Copyright © 2016, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved


Tuesday, June 7, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Oak branches in snow. Photo by Bob Kirchman

(to be continued) [click to read]

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