Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Antichrists

Chapter 21 of Drifting With Jesus

The Antichrists

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. -- 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.


When the bus stopped off in Colorado Springs, Jeremy suddenly said goodbye to Oscar again and alighted. Oscar was unsurprised, and replied that given the way their paths were running, they’d probably cross again before Jeremy reached the east coast. After a light lunch Jeremy was strolling around the small downtown when he came upon a theater. He looked up at the marquee and saw that the film Jesus Camp was playing. He then checked the show times, and saw that the projector rolled in ten minutes. He nonchalantly bought a ticket and went in.

The film told the story of how Pastor Becky used her ministry and bible camp to indoctrinate children into her interpretation of Christianity. She did it with a microphone and a mix of chanting, cheers and fear. She gathered the children together and stirred them into a babbling frenzy, then began speaking in tongues. “Oh so co ho, rashal de cahalebusida….Hallelujah!” Becky forced the passion into her voice while the children looked on fearfully. “Let’s do it. Oh, we love you Jesus. Let the Holy Spirit fall. Feel His power. This is you talking, and the Holy Spirit’s going to tell you what to say. Don’t stop! Don’t stop! This is the greatest day of your life, this is the day you got saved.” Many of the children were crying.

Becky then explained herself to the narrator. “A lot of it, just in the last few years, has to do with President Bush. He’s really brought some credibility to the Christian faith. He’s been very open, blatantly open, about his faith in God.”

The children were taught that global warming is not real. And that creation was right and evolution was stupid and that science doesn’t prove anything. They were told to hold flags while laying hands on a Bible. They were shown stuffed animals that represented sin, and told that the devil was after them. They ritually smashed ceramic cups with a hammer, then cried out to Jesus through their tears. They were dressed up as soldiers and trained to be prayer warriors.

In one scene where the children were gathered, another woman brought out a life size cardboard idol of George Bush, stood it before them, and said, “Okay, we’re gonna welcome Mr. President now… say, ‘welcome President Bush…do some warfare over him. Do some war-“ As the children chanted, ‘in Jesus’ name, in Jesus’ name’ she started babbling in tongues. “Odda boka she code tela ma haya. Here he is, he’s come to visit us. Yes, Lord. Thank you, Jesus. Tell him.” She led them. “Mr. President.”

The children repeated after her. “Mr. President.”

“One nation under God.”

“Mr. President, one nation under God,” they shouted, then the room exploded into cheers.

Toward the end of the film Ted Haggard was briefly featured. He was also referred to as Pastor Ted, and was then president of the National Evangelical Association, and peacock proud of his weekly phone calls to President Bush.

In the film, Haggard said: “We believe that the Bible is the word of God. We don’t have to have a general assembly about what we believe, it’s written in the Bible. So we don’t have to debate what we should think about homosexual activity, it’s written in the Bible.” He then exhorted his congregation to uphold a core moral code, and led them in prayer. “Father, in the mighty name of the Lord Jesus, we pray for President Bush as he’s preparing to elect a new supreme court nominee. Give us a pillar of strength that lasts forever.”

In Pastor Ted’s book, he describes his ideal Christian life. “I want my finances in order, my kids trained, my wife to love life, and good friends who are a delight…I don’t want surprises, scandals or secrets… I want the church to help me live life well, not exhaust me with endless ‘worthwhile’ projects.” Those are not exactly the selfless words one would expect to hear from a Christian.

A few months after Jesus Camp was released Pastor Ted was disgraced when regular methamphetine fueled dalliances with a gay prostitute were revealed.

After viewing the film Jeremy walked over to the library and did some research, then cobbled together a short piece of writing based on the results of his reading.

In the 2000 presidential campaign George Bush invoked the name of Christ during a debate, and said that discovering Jesus Christ “changes your heart.”

Okay, well enough, and very true. Now read and apply this scripture. Hebrews 10:26-27. For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

Much of the speculation about the Antichrist is based on the beast in Revelation, but while the words beast, dragon, false prophet, devil and Satan all appear in the narrative of Revelation, antichrist is not used. The word ‘antichrist’ appears only five times in the Bible, and all in the first two epistles of John, and defines itself in one scripture: Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. 1 John 2:22

The word’s appearance four verses before is just as revealing. Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. 1 John 2:18
So as some pastors and prophecy fanatics warn us from pulpits and in pop culture that these are the last days and the antichrist is coming, so is the first part of the scripture fulfilled; and that being so, thus also is the second, that many antichrists are now among us.

He who says he is of Christ but does abominably is a liar, and denies God, and is antichrist. How a man is abomination to God is described in lucid detail in Proverbs 6:16, where it is written: These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Therein do we find our former president described uncannily. That smug, prideful look of George Bush is as unforgettable as the lies, the bloody hands and the dreams of a dark heart—everything you would imagine an antichrist to be. He stole an election, with help from his father, and deceived many, in that so many Christians voted for him—exactly as some ‘Christians’ say will happen when the Antichrist comes.

Along with his sidekick the false prophet Cheney--who fear mongered about the falling sky while warnings were ignored and attacks launched on their watch--they roared through eight years of history and left waves of social, cultural and economic destruction still repercussing into the future and a deep wake of devastation behind, bungling everything from hurricanes to terror attacks. And just as with those disasters, it will take the fulness of time to number the dead and measure the damage.

It could be argued that Bush was worse than a Caesar—insomuch as while the Caesars persecuted the Jews, Bush not only wrought evil upon his enemies, but his OWN countrymen. Bush a Christian? In eight years did he do even one good act? One? The military invasions and the resulting bloodshed? Doling out to the wealthy from the national treasury, at the expense of the poor, and to the devastation of the world economy? Ignoring the cries of the dying when Katrina swept through? Blessing his friends who were destroying God’s earth?

A truly Christian president would have performed MANY good deeds. Bush--I can't think of one. Yet the Christian right wing, that pack of hypocrites and liars who’ve hijacked the word of the Lord to their own selfish and perverted ends, propped up George Bush antichrist as one of their leaders.

President Reagan is another of their heroes. Like Bush, Reagan professed himself Christian. Many ‘Christians’ describe him as “a great…beloved…hero.” In truth, he was one of the more evil characters in United States history. He never met a war he didn’t want to arm. As to those covert, undeclared wars he funded in Nicaragua and El Salvador, the people of Central America are largely impoverished, and predominantly Christian in the civilian regions where Reagan’s contras were planting land mines and murdering. Roughly 135,000 people died in those conflicts, and it is fair to say that innocent Christian blood was spilled in the slaughter.

Jesus said, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?

Can you spill Christian blood in the name of Christ? No.

Are Bush and Reagan antichrists? Two of the many prophesied by the scriptures.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Shakespeare Rejection Letters

The Shakespeare Rejection Letters

(This stand alone piece is chapter 27 of my novel, Peppercorn Cafe. You can read more about the novel and the first few chapters here.)



Dear Mr. Shakespeare,


Michael Morneau asked me to respond to your submission of Hamlet to Pyramid Publishing, which I have now reviewed.

Let me start by saying that you do show some skill in developing characters and plot. Also, the amount of carnage and blood spilled meet the quotas as set forth in the Pyramid Publishing guidelines for lurid content. That said, I do think the story needs to be reworked before it will be ready for publication.

What struck me most was that the end should have been the beginning. Give our readers the slaughter they crave right from page one. Then, rather than having Horatio and Fortinbras recounting the events in retrospect, introduce a CSI detective to reconstruct the crimes. With all the blood everywhere, it would be interesting to run the DNA to see if Hamlet, Gertrude and Claudius were actually related or not. You could also blood test Ophelia, to discover whether she really drowned or if the manner of her death was staged as a cover up to some nefarious poisoning. Are you seeing all the same potential here that I do?

Since you mention in your cover letter that you have some other ideas for stories, this could be the first in a series of detective novels, which sometimes do quite well here at Pyramid Publishing. If you decide to rework Hamlet with these thoughts in mind, please resubmit to Mr. Morneau’s office and I’ll be glad to take another look.

All best,

David Haverly
Assistant to Michael Morneau
Vice President
Pyramid Publishing


Dear Mr. Shakespeare,

Thank you very much for thinking of Pyramid Publishing as a potential publisher of your play Macbeth. After much discussion and serious consideration, we are going to have to pass. While you make use of some interesting imagery and quirky language, in the end I felt it was a confusing story that fell flat.

As a woman I was put off by your naming a character ‘Lady.’ Just last week I was walking along Fifth Avenue when this little scalawag plowed into me and then had the nerve to say: “Hey lady, watch where you’re going.” My name is not Lady, and he was the one not paying attention. Since roughly half our readers are women, we need to be mindful of and appeasing to their sensibilities, part of which is calling them by identifiable names. Consider Edna or Melissa or somesuch.

I also didn’t understand the part about Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane. Being rooted in the ground, trees can’t move. However, should you decide to rework Macbeth into something more commercially viable, the forest setting does offer a suggestion. Lately Pyramid Publishing has been doing very well with vampire and werewolf fiction. We have to give our readers what they demand, which is vampirism and lycanthropy, as well as women with recognizable names.

I do wish you well.

Molly (not Lady) Dugall
Acquisitions Editor
Pyramid Publishing


Dear Mr. Shakespeare,

I’d like to thank you for submitting your cycle of plays about the War of the Roses to Pyramid Publishing. Eight plays, that’s an impressive accomplishment! I don’t know how you kept all the Richards and Henrys straight.

As you might know, the publication of history books is a tricky business, those murky waters being colored by many shades of grey. Here at Pyramid Publishing our standard of excellence demands an excruciating degree of fact-checking and cross-referencing before we will publish anything we are comfortable calling factually accurate by branding it with the Pyramid Publishing logo. Because of this high bar whereto we strive, we can only consider history books written by authors who hold PhDs or are enrolled in doctoral programs at accredited institutions of higher learning.

Because you seem to really know your subject matter, I have enclosed a list of Pyramid Publishing approved universities whose faculty, students and alumni are qualified to write for us. Should you decide to enroll in one of these programs we will be happy to consider your plays for publication; and if you already are, please submit proof and we will proceed with your submission forthwith.


Warm regards,

Genevieve Blumquart
Acquisitions Editor
Pyramid Publishing

P.S. Did you see the film The War of the Roses? While I thought Michael Douglas’ performance left somewhat to be desired, Kathleen Turner was fabulous.


Dear Mr. Shakespeare,

Thank you for submitting your poetry collections to Pyramid Publishing. While at times interesting, and displaying some degree of proficiency with the language, I’m afraid I’ll have to take a pass. People stopped writing rhyming poetry years ago—think free verse, free association, and stream of consciousness. And since the only people who buy poetry books are other poets, I don’t see how we could successfully create nor carve a niche for you in the limited and highly competitive market for poetry chapbooks. You might try one of the smaller presses that specialize in that sort of thing.

Very best regards,

Lulu Pluma
Senior Editor
Pyramid Publishing

P.S. The Rape of Lucrece and Venus and Adonis are rather longish, don’t you think? I’d consider streamlining the stories by cutting a few verses here and there. Just a thought. (smile).


Dear Mr. Shakespeare,

I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to consider your play, Othello, for publication here at Pyramid Publishing. Ms. Lulu Pluma’s office forwarded it to mine.

Being in a biracial relationship—I am Latina and my husband is Irish—I was very empathetic to the plight of Othello and Desdemona and their mixed race romance. If I only had a peso for every potato enchilada and whisky soaked taco joke I’ve ever heard…. But with the advances in race relations that have taken place over the last couple generations, it is my informed opinion that the troubles publication of Othello would stir up would not be worth the sales the resulting publicity would generate, so I am going to pass.

Also, I don’t think it’s necessary to refer to Othello’s blackness by calling him a Moor. While I would prefer to call a spade a spade, we here at Pyramid Publishing refer to negroes as Persons of Color. POCs is also acceptable.

Best wishes,

Pilar McGregor
Acquisitions Editor
Pyramid Publishing


Dear Mr. Shakespeare,

Thank you for submitting Romeo and Juliet to Pyramid Publishing Romance. I’m afraid this doesn’t fit in with our current needs. To be blunt, your play could not be more diametric to what we publish. Two lovers who pine for each other only to commit suicide because they can’t be together really doesn’t make much sense. Why didn’t they simply hook up? I know families can cause problems when they disapprove of a loved one’s lover, but the Montagues and the Capulets carry it to an absurd extreme.

I also found the lack of physical description to be most annoying. While they certainly would be no less than perfect physical specimens, you could throw a muscle and a breast in here and there to satisfy the reader.

We also prefer stories starring empowering women, not just some heartsick girl like Juliet who sits around her house whining to her maiden while waiting for Romeo. Our heroines are self-possessed women with strong careers who not only know what they want from life and in their men, they TAKE it. For your future reference I have enclosed a copy of our guidelines, which you’ll find are similar to those of most publishers of romance novels. While strong writing is a plus it’s not necessary, as we are more interested in adventurous, beautiful characters having erotic encounters in exotic settings with HAPPY endings. And don’t feel obligated to limit yourself by being realistic—the sub-genres of paranormal, science fiction and time travel romances sell just as well, and often even better.

Also, if you’re going to get serious about writing romance, I’d suggest adopting a nom de plum (that’s French for ‘pen name’). At the risk of offending you, Shakespeare sounds rather…tribal. We actually have a staffer here, Amanda Van Skyhawk, who creates and assigns names for our authors whose God given names are too dull for a book cover. Should you ever reach that point in a relationship with us, she would give your moniker a makeover.

In closing I will say that from my years of experience as an editor, I’ve found that men have a great deal of difficulty writing successful romance, but should you persist in your dream, I wish you well.

Palpitatingly,

Pamela Der Hartenbrajker
President
Pyramid Publishing Romance


Dear Mr. Shakespeare,

Thank you so very, very much for submitting your wonderful play, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, to Pyramid Publishing. I greatly enjoyed your charming drama, which only augments my regret that my employer, Pyramid Publishing, does not own the smallest imprint that will even dabble in gay and lesbian literature, wherefore I must pass on your project. The lexicon lacks sufficient superlatives to describe my admiration for your writing about Two Gentle Men—we need more courageous artists like yourself openly celebrating and embracing our lifestyle—and it is my sincerest hope that you find a brave publisher willing to introduce your work to the wider audience it so richly deserves.

I especially enjoyed the delightful device of having Julia disguise herself in the dress of a boy. Have you ever considered writing something about men dressing as women? Something that could be set to music and staged on Broadway? How about a musical with a huge cast of men singing not to and about women, but as women. Flamboyant costumes, dancing and song, men in makeup…my heart flutters just fantasizing.

I am a member of an informal group of drag queens called The Azaleas. We perform pretty regularly in the karaoke bars in the West Village, and if your visage is as appealing to the eye as your words are to the mind, I suspect I would very much enjoy being in your company. We can be found kicking it up around Christopher Street every weekend, and should you wish to come out and meet us some time, consider this a standing invitation. We usually get together for drinks at Boots and Saddle on Friday nights, and Stonewall on Saturdays.

Thank you again, and in the hope of meeting you in person some day sooner than later, I remain affectionately yours,

Benjamin Donald “Ben Don” Yurnese
Senior Editor
Pyramid Publishing


Dear Mr. Shakespeare,

I write in response to your submission of your play, Julius Caesar, to Pyramid Publishing. I’m afraid we’re not going to offer to publish it, which, to be perfectly frank, was a decision easily reached. Countless thousands upon thousands of books have been written about the Roman Empire and the Caesars over the centuries. What could you possibly have discovered that isn’t already known, and adds something worthwhile to the canon of historical writings? To this end I found your work to be a pointless exercise in futility.

A small bit of advice, should you ever find a publisher willing to collaborate with you in bringing out your book. Be sure to thoroughly check and credit your sources. While I can’t cite them specifically offhand, I did recognize several of your phrases—‘Et tu, Brute,’ ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend my your ears,’ and ‘Beware the ides of March,’ among others. Plagiarism is a legal morass for the publisher, as well as an ethical burden for any author with the least shred of conscience.

Sincerely,

Brian Hammond
Executive Editor
Pyramid Publishing


Dear Mr. Shakespeare,

Thank you very much for submitting your play, The Taming of the Shrew, to Pyramid Publishing, which I had the good fortune to have land on my desk. Whether by insulting her, or starving her, or denying her clothing, or tying her up and forcing her to ride upon a decrepit old horse, the ways in which Petruchio berates and humiliates Kate into submission make for an excellent entertainment.

Therefore, it is with sincere disappointment that I must inform you that Pyramid Publishing will not be offering to publish your play. As it went with several of my colleagues who read it, I’m afraid the average reader would misunderstand the comedy of the misogyny as a paradigm of domestic abuse instead of the parody that it really is, and that it would stir up controversy and resistance and denouncements for being politically incorrect, however unnecessarily.

Notwithstanding all that, if you’re ever available for drinks, I’m a very naughty, undisciplined girl. You can reach me during normal business hours at the Pyramid Publishing general number; all the receptionists know my extension.

With great regard,

Catherine Abruzola
Assistant Executive Vice President
Pyramid Publishing


Dear Mr. Shakespeare,

Merci for sending along King Lear to Pyramid Publishing, which I’ve now reviewed. Very interesting stuff, and I empathize on several levels. Dementia is a sensitive topic, and having worked here at Pyramid Publishing since 1939, I’ve seen more than a bit of it pass through these halls. As the mind reaches into the latter years, it flickers as it dims, like a dying fire. With Lear you capture the madness of advanced years with exceptional lucidity. Perhaps you could utilize this piece as a public service announcement on the subject.

I was also touched by the stories of the king’s three daughters. At least Lear got one flowery apple of a child in Cordelia—all three of mine are rotten to the core, like Goneril and Regan. Ever, to this very moment, it amazes me continually that my seed and Gladys’ womb produced three such wretched monsters as Melvinia, Delores and Velma. Our only consolation is that they have long been out of the nest and flown—but only after gorging their bellies full of worms, of course. But where the worm dwells, the worm turns, and so are they like upright graves walking. As the gratitude of progeny is a blessing, so is the lack thereof a ravenous disease with an insatiable appetite for the spirit. O my soul. But enough of my troubles….

As always, it was fantastic to hear from you. Next time don’t be so long between letters, and don’t be afraid to pick up the phone—they dial from both ends. You really must get stateside for a New York visit someday soon. I know, I know, planes cross the pond in both directions every day. Do give my warmest regards to your latest wife.

Affectionately,

Quincy
Editor
Pyramid Publishing


Dear Mr. Shakespeare,

It is my great pleasure to inform you that Pyramid Publishing has accepted your play Titus Andronicus for publication. All the tongue chopping and limb lopping made for some of the most awesome scenes of violence I have ever read. My colleagues here at Pyramid Publishing Horror unanimously agree, and we are eager to add your talent to our team.

A few minor tweaks are needed before Titus will be publishable, which we’re confident you’ll be able to apply in short order. Because most of our readers think Rome is a brand of spaghetti sauce, we want to advance him through history and into a contemporary setting. We were thinking of Baltimore. We also want him to be the psychotic product of a twisted childhood, and a serial killer named The Rampager, who is sometimes nicknamed The Baltimore Butcher. We plan to publish him in a series of graphic novels—that’s graphic as in comic books, not graphic as in violent, though they will be, to be certain. Juice him up on steroids, arm him to the teeth and cut him loose to run wild.

We especially loved the storyline where Titus baked Tamora’s murdered sons into a pie and fed them to her. This gave us a brilliant marketing idea—a series of Rampager Cookbooks entitled: Revenge Is A Dish Best Served…Curried. Or, With Chicken. Or, Ala Mode. Or, Grilled. You get the idea. This will serve the twofold purpose of introducing your character while also selling food books to our gothic/vampire/zombie/monster/mindless murder markets.

If you want to come to New York, we’d be delighted to meet you in person. And if you just want to get to work, the moment we get some acceptable stories and/or recipes from you, we have a set of contracts and checks with your name all over them. Either way, welcome aboard!

Best regards,

Pierre Boucher
Senior Editor
Pyramid Publishing Horror



Dear Mr. Shakespeare,

I’ve been hearing your name chattered about the office for months now as my various colleagues discuss the many plays you’ve been submitting to Pyramid.  I’ve always wondered if you had something up my alley in your sleeve, and I was instantly piqued with intrigue when I saw your name on an envelope addressed to me.

Thank you very much for submitting your play The Tempest to the Pyramid Fantasy line for publication consideration.  In the realm of fantasy your conceit is plausible, and the character Prospero a serviceable wizard.  I also enjoyed the troll Caliban, and his drunken post modern self loathing channeled into hating his master.  The sprite Ariel was a charming idea for a character, though I thought a bit thinly executed.  I couldn’t figure it out—is Ariel male or female?  Or is the ambiguity intentional?  The character’s name itself suggests androgyny.  Interesting.

Based upon my reading—which is subjective, to be certain—there are two major problems with The Tempest.  The first is Miranda as princess.  I realize that she falls in love with the son of a king when Prince Ferdinand charms her with his boyish naiveté, but she is only the daughter of a duke.  Our readers are generally forgiving when authors take license, but that is too great a leap up social strata to even consider asking them to accept.  We are partial to overtly throne oriented material.

The second and perhaps greater problem is the inconceivable and profound lack of a dragon.  Did you not read our guidelines?  Are you unfamiliar with the contemporary authors you aspire to join?  Without a crime there can be no mystery novel, and no romance without a love affair; even as without water there is no life, so without a dragon can there be no real fantasy.  It’s immutable.  On a related note, the way your play opened in the midst of a storm was dramatically clever, and I thought you could have prolonged the drama of that dark scene by casting the long shadows of war’s fearful pall upon the land.  We must slake our readers’ eternal thirst for violence, and you could tie that back to the dragon when the enraged beast is employed as a weapon of mass destruction by one of the warring kingdoms, incinerating the other with an angry roar of fiery breath.

Those are my thoughts, and I appreciate your inspiring me to conjure and express them with your submission of The Tempest.

Fantastically yours,

Evan Doughty

Pyramid Fantasy  

Monday, November 1, 2010

Goodbye Rodi

“And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.” Matthew 10:12-14

Goodbye Rodi, whoever you are. I don’t know you and I don’t care to, and that is why I just defriended and blocked you.

This was a difficult breakup to initiate, we being ‘brothers in Christ,’ but in the end I feel comfortable with my decision. Today is election day. Rodi voted to hate me, while I voted to love him. Since we serve two different masters, I have to obey mine.

Rodi and I only met through facebook. We have a mutual friend that suggested Rodi friend me because of my writings about Christ. Rodi says he’s a Christian, but it’s strange…every time I receive an email from one of my Christian friends, I always feel a little ping of joy in my heart before reading it. Whenever I receive communication from Rodi, I prepare myself to be outraged or annoyed or simply confused by incoherence.

Rodi is a conservative ‘Christian.’ There is very little difference between trying to converse with him and trying to converse with a rock. Last week I asked him a straightforward Yes or No question three times. He could not answer it. The question really was as direct and simple as: “Is your name spelled R-O-D-I?” And he really could not and never did answer it.

I once quoted Ezekiel in a ‘debate’ we were having. He called my argument weak. He claims he’s read the Bible, but I don’t think so. (His actual words were: 'he’s gone through it several times.') As it turned out he had absolutely no clue what he was talking about in the first place in attacking my use of the verse from Ezekiel. I think he’s afraid to actually read the Bible for the truth he knows it contains.

I once said that Christ was about love. Rodi replied not always, then quoted Matthew 10:34. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” When I asked Rodi what he thought that passage meant, he couldn’t answer me. I don’t think he understands that the sword to which Christ referred is not forged from metal and designed for murder.

The sword of Christ is the word of God as described in various places throughout Scripture. For example, Isaiah 49:2 "And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me." And Revelation 1:16 "And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength."

Like many conservatives, Rodi loves the part about the blood of Christ washing away sin, but the ‘do unto others’ and ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’ parts he could do without. I think that much like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their 144,000 chosen, and the Mormons and their great prophets Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, Rodi believes in a derivative Jesus that simply does not exist.

Rodi strikes me as blind to the truth, and somewhat mentally ill, and that what he needs from Christ before forgiveness is first to be healed. Jesus did heal many who were blind and lunatic, and 2 Peter 3:16 certainly seems to apply to Rodi’s worldview and odd ‘understanding’ of the Bible as he babbled it to me. “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.”

He also calls to mind the basket of figs in Jeremiah 24:2. "One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad." That metaphor describes one of the core messages of the Bible that so many conservative Christians fail to grasp. Simply put, God wants your heart. You can attend church eight days a week, tithe a billion dollars and donate to every charity under the sun, but if your heart is filled with racism and/or hatred and/or violence and/or greed and/or lies and/or corruption and/or contempt for your fellow man then you are like an apple that appears shiny and firm, but once tasted and found to be rotten is spit out and tossed.

For me to come Rodi’s rendering of Christ would require me to harden my heart. For him to come to mine would require that Rodi soften his heart. Since fruit softens as it ripens, and the goal of life is to become palatable to God....

Rodi is praying for a landslide Republican victory today. He thinks the Republican policies of well-oiled war machines and disdain for social programs is somehow Christian. He has no problem cutting monies for education and housing and infrastructure and food for the poor to build more bombs for foreign babies and to give more billions to billionaires. He thinks it's a-ok that bankers of America are lying and cheating to turn people out of their homes. He just does not get it. Rodi hates Obama. But if McCain and Palin were in power we'd probably have 23 percent unemployment, war with Iran, and Fox News blaming all that on Obama too. Don't worry, Rodi, with the direction things are taking, McCain may just live to see that glorious day of Bomb, Bomb Iran that is the stuff of his wettest nocturnal emissions.

So Rodi, when you raise your champagne glass in victory this election night I hope this lyric from Welcome to the Terrordome by Public Enemy pops into your head, (via this subliminal seed): “Traits of hate who’s celebratin with Satan?” If the Republicans win it will be a victory for SATAN. Yet more irreversible damage will be inflicted on our society, and the death knells for democracy, already ringing, will start pounding out their ominous dirge. I hope the next time you eat some homemade mango raisin gelato dipped in capitalist turd sprinkles you think of the child labor you knowingly exploited with your vote so that Americorp could expand its profit margins while raising unemployment. I hope when you complain about the deficit, again, in a few years, that you remember voting today to let REPUBLICANS add a few more trillion to it, again. I could go on and on with the specific political truths, but you don't care about the truth, you are perfectly content to let right wing propaganda poisons zombify your mind with unfounded fears and outright lies.

Rodi is an avowed capitalist. I have no problem with the concept of hard work and accompanying reward, and I work in a capitalist business on the Gulf of Mexico. Our profit margin was directly impacted by the oil spill. In order to succeed, my business needed the gulf to be left as God made it. In order to succeed BP needed to rip it up. In Rodi’s bizarre 'Christian' world BP’s capitalist rights superseded mine. Let me repeat that: BP's right to destroy God's creation for profit supplanted my right to profit from the Gulf of Mexico being left alone.

Rodi thinks his place in heaven is assured, and that until then he’s free to visit the wickedness of the Devil in the guise of self-righteous Republican misery on the rest of the world. I don’t at all feel like my salvation is guaranteed. I’ve given God plenty enough reason to reject me, and know there are no buts in the judgment of my life, and I walk through mine on my knees hoping to shape my heart into an acceptable fruit. The last line of Drifting With Jesus embodies my philosophy: “I hope to see you all in heaven, for that will mean that I am there also.”

I suggest you take one of those Bibles from the shelf, Rodi, puff off the dust, open it to page one, start with “In the beginning…” and read a few pages a day for a year or so until you’ve reached the last “amen.” It's not boring nor tedious, it's AWESOME. I have nothing further to say to you, and anything else I would say can be found between those four words.

Speaking of a poof of dust....