Monday, July 31, 2017

Chapter 27 - Zombie Wars

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

Misty, Jack, and Wendell, ran full tilt down the corridor, each giving the gung-ho shout of a crazy person.

"I thought... you said... this would... work."  panted Wendell between breaths.

Jack, who was the only one still holding his pilfered automatic rifle, called over to him.  "Well, they're doing what we expected.  I call that 'working'."

Another of the hoarde got close enough to squeeze off a volley of lead, causing all three to duck as they ran.

"Yeah.  Working."  said Wendell with, perhaps, a dump truck load of irony.

"There!  Up ahead!"  cried Jack.  "Misty?  You got any more of those grenades?"

"No.  I traded them in for a Volkswagen." came the sarcastic reply.

She pulled the pin of one with her teeth and lobbed it at the pair of locked double doors directly in their path. 

As the three hurled themselves aside and awaited the boom, Jack felt the need to defend himself.  "Honestly, you guys.  This is a good plan!"

The concussion was ear-splitting but both cleared the path ahead and swept away any nearby pursuers.

They ran through the tendrils of smoke and past small fires licking at the remains of the door frame.  They burst into the grand hall, the stout metal doors which formerly barred against after-hours access, now lie one to each side, mangled as if hit by a semi.

"I will admit though, these things kind of grow on ya." observed Misty, pulling the pin on another and tossing it back over her shoulder. 

The blast bought them a few more seconds.  As they made a bee-line for the stage, and in particular, the curtain partitioning off the inner sanctum of En.

"Hey, don't waste those!" scolded Jack.  "We didn't kick over that hornets nest to steal em for playing around with, you know.  We'll want as many as we can get when we get to Maximum Security."

"If we get to Maximum Security."

The three scrambled up on stage just as a new wave of brainwashed troops burst into the room.  Some of them squeezed off a round or two, but all stopped once they realized that their god En was in the line of fire.  Instead, they charged the stage.

The three friends dashed between the open curtains to the very base of the stone icon.

Jack and Wendell, made themselves busy searching the stage.  Wendell spied a control box and headed toward it.

Misty had promised herself she wouldn't look.  She really didn't want to look.  But as she saw the stains on the wooden stage, realizing they might be from Howell, she looked up.

The only light in the room was moonlight streaming in from the ample windows.  The look on the face of En was all but alive in the otherworldly glow.  She could have sworn a malevolent grin spread across the deity's face!

Misty, who prided herself on her toughness, let out a blood-curdling scream to end all blood-curdling screams.

Jack and Wendell's hearts jumped about three inches out of their chest.

The men following came to a screeching halt as the black curtains closed on their own volition.

The screaming of the girl abruptly stopped.

A cascade of red flowed out from under the curtains.

When they parted again, the three kids were gone.

Devoured by En!

The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Chapter 26 - Back Into the Frying Pan

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

Three days later, Wendell found himself in a chillingly familiar spot.  Like a horrifying case of déjà vu, he was once again standing in with a group of other men, waiting for the stupefying doughnut to be passed.

He hadn't been re-captured, but secretly slipped in with the enemy ranks filing into the grand hall - as the three teens dubbed the place.  Of the group, Wendell was the one most likely to foolishly fling himself into the jaws of certain death in order to take the enemy off guard.  Yet this plan made even him a little edgy.

To get oneself kidnapped and dragged into a hoard of mentally twisted bloodthirsty killers was a forgivable accident in his mind.  Hey, it happens to the best of us.  Yet to willingly return there...?  That was crazy to a whole new order of magnitude.

He'd protested the insane plan, of course, but in the end there were only two options:
First, to somehow evade the zomboid troops prowling the countryside for them, and then hope that the authorities weren't in the pay of Seebeck and would actually believe them.  Second, to take down the well-dressed evil overlord themselves.

That seemed to be the more reasonable.  There was only one Seebeck, after all.  Then confusion would rule the leaderless zombie horde, allowing the three to escape unscathed in the chaos.  ... Probably.

It wasn't the "probably" of that plan bothered Wendell so much.  It was the psychotropic pastry that the server now held out before him.

Wendell's hand shook as he reached out for it.

For the first time in his recollection, there was something the food-obsessed teen didn't want to eat.

If you get me out of this, Lord, I'm never eating another doughnut again. Wendell mentally lied.

The master stopped and banged his staff on the stage floor just as he'd done the previous time and raised his hands high.

Everyone raised their doughnut.

Wendell raised his doughnut.

The MC dropped his hands.

Everyone ate his doughnut.

Wendell ate his doughnut...!

People started to groan.  Some doubled over and clutched their stomach.

Wendell did both.

It gave good cover as the laced doughnut slide down his sleeve, just like the community theater magician he'd learned the trick from. 

(The one he'd eaten was completely clean - a decoy stolen from the relatively low-security kitchen fresh out of the fryer.)

As the server turned away, Wendell's hand returned to his side, letting the drugged doughnut roll back into his hand.  It went smoothly into his front pants pocket and was smashed flat so as not to create a bulge.

Even though he knew where it had come from, Wendell's subconscious nagged him with frightening questions.  Am I really sure they were doping them after cooking?  Am I becoming one of them?  How would I know?  Does my stomach really hurt?  Wait!  What's that?  A tingle in my foot!  Oh no!  It's starting!  (I think.)  (Maybe.)

His paranoia was interrupted by the call to march.  He staggered along with them, doing his best to look glassy-eyed and mind-controlled.  (All the while hoping that he was only pretending.)

Ultimately, he was split off from the herd along with several other new recruits, this time not en route for the prison, but instead following a tall senior officer with a mustache.

They were marched to a secure depot and fitted out with uniforms, kit, and best of all... weapons!

The mustache checked his clipboard.  "Congratulations.  You are now called unit 302.  You will report to Sargent Smith in sector A-19 and obey all orders with out hesitation."

"Yes, SIR!" shouted the crowd.

Wendell was a little late on the uptake and said "sir" a full beat later than the rest.

The irony of the words "without hesitation" made the mistake seem especially bad.  I hope he doesn't make me do push-ups for that.

Then he remembered that this bunch had harsher punishments than push-ups. He shuddered.

The new troop fell out behind the 'Stashe, presumably en route to sector A-19.  Wendell made sure he was at the back of the line, for he had another destination in mind.

Misty's arms must be getting tired by now.

The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Book Review: You can do This

 You can do This
ISBN: 1631467468
Author: Tricia Lott Williford [website]
Published by: Navpress

DISCLAIMER: This book was received from the publisher in exchange for a free, unbiased review.

Cover Description:

YOU ARE SMART.  You are kind.  You are beautiful.  And even if you've never thought so, you are confident.  You have everything you need to begin.  This is your story, your life, your moment.

I'm inviting you into the confidence conversation.

It's time to stop being unhappy with yourself.  You can choose to stop second-guessing all of your decisions and commitments and wondering whether your life would be better if only you'd chosen differently.  I invite you to be present where you are -- where God is! -- and to embrace your life and live out your God-given gift of confidence.

Come join me in the pages, my friend.  Let's talk about who you are.  Let's hold hands and run hard into the glorious mess of it all. I don't know what challenges wait for you, but this I know for sure:
You can do This!


When I first ordered this book, the title and summary both promised "seizing the confidence God offers", in general terms, but when I started into it I quickly realized that this is a book for women.  In fact, I didn't even get past the table of contents, in which each chapter description is, "The confident girl.... [does whatever]".  This could have been made clearer, but I really don't hold it against the book.  Although I will say that the material could have been handled in such a way to appeal to men as well, broadening the author's audience.

Incidentally, my wife took one look at the cover and immediately said, "It's a girl book."  I was taken aback and asked how she knew that.  "There's a pair of shoes on it."  I'd have gotten killed for saying that! :)

Even so, I really began to resonate with this book right away, especially in the introduction where she stated, "The only difference between you and the confident person is one thing:  Confidence."  At this point I started thinking I could get some great things out of this book, but little did I realize that there was a shadow lurking, even within this clever turn of a phrase.

Wilford is very a good author, and does a great job of being vulnerable with her own struggles with feelings of inadequacy. 

"I don't make mistakes, I have failures." she says.  That is, when something goes wrong, she (and I, both) struggle with the lie that we didn't just make a mistake because we're human, but we failed because we're failures. This was a real shot-to-the-heart moment!

Not only that, but the opposite is true as well, namely, not only does losing prove I'm worthless, but also, since I'm worthless I don't even deserve the victories.  

(I'd add that this self-destructive thinking is only re-enforced through peer-pressure and socialist education which punishes exceptionalism as "weird" and wrong, and marginalizes the exceptionally smart as, "nerds", but that's a can of worms for another fishing trip.)

"If I'm honest," Williford says, "there's a part of me that will always be a middle schooler navigating the cafeteria of life, hoping to quickly find my place; dodge the microscope of critics; and feel known, seen, and safe."

<raises hand>  Yep.  Totally with you.

In many ways I identified with the author, and enjoyed her godly advice.  Yet the ideas presented in this book have a strange duality that makes it difficult for me to endorse.  While the author is clearly confident with scripture and handles it well, she also has synchrotized that with the advice of ungodly purveyors of wisdom of our age.

Now, on some level I don't mind this.  After all, it is a fundamental concept of logic to take a given statement and evaluate it soley on its own merit rather than the character of the one giving it.

That being said, there is a vast difference between that and becoming a doting disciple of the ungodly.

Williford relies far too heavily on the advice of "new spirituality" purveyors such as Oprah Winfrey and Brené Brown as well as her psychotherapist Jana, devoting the entire middle third of her book to their advice alone, no scripture needed!

[It may be off topic here, but briefly, "new spirituality" is the same as old idolatry.  The only difference between an idol carved from stone and one made of ideas is that the former can at least keep papers from blowing off your desk.]

As a result, what started out as an authentic and genuine problem and Biblical advice, the book degenerates quickly into wonderful ideas like visualizing a box in your mind to hide all of your emotional "stuff" in.  That is, my friends, is what we call A HORRIBLE IDEA!  When my kids hide stuff they don't want to deal with in a box, around our house we call that "stashing", and as I point out a minimum of 300 times a day, "That doesn't fix the mess.  That only moves the mess."  Emotionally, it's even worse, because you don't know when they're going to pop out at you like funhouse monsters.

Dear, sweet Jana sure isn't doing Williford any favors!

I think the lowest point for me though (and I think this is a great example of the conflicted advice), was when she said, "Hold on... to what?  You hold on to whatever is keeping you from floating away.  You find the one thing that is solid, safe, and secure, and you don't let it out of your sight.  Don't let it out of your grip.  Hold on to the one thing you can find that is real and true."

Freeze frame there.  So far, sounds right, doesn't it?  We know exactly what that "one thing" is!  ...right?  ...right?

Nope.  "Hold on to the one thing you can find that is real and true.  Your child.  Your art.  Your family.  A playlist.  A song.  A phrase.  A word.  Hold on to that with both hands."

Oh!  Good thing you said something!  I was going to go for the firm foundation of the Word of God [Luke 6:46-49], but my mistake.  Just need to update the old iTunes. 

Okay, I apologize for my over-the-top snarkiness, but this completely reeks of new spirituality.  That is, " 'whatever' [direct quote from above] gives you a spiritual buzz is just as good as anything else, just cling to that and you'll be fine."  Not cool.  Very not cool.

I mean, upbeat music and those other things are great, but PLEASE don't run to your playlist in times of trouble!  That's just idolatry all over again!!!


In conclusion, would I recommend this book?  Sadly, no.  And if you choose to read it anyway, I recommend doing so with the utmost discernment, testing everything against the Word.

Furthermore, my heart breaks for the author who has undergone so much.  Please join me in praying for this woman personally, that the Spirit should bring discernment of the many voices competing for her attention.  That she could turn away from those who are wise in the world's eyes, and rather find comfort and healing in the arms of Jesus.   Amen.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Juggernaught: Chapter 25 - The Decisions We Make II

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

There in the humble village of mud and sticks Mac Crieche preached every opportunity he could get.  There he stood, day after day, in the shadow of En, calling out to the crowd that righteousness before God was not an achievement to be earned, but a gift to be accepted.

The first to realize the significance of that was his pagan assistant Charelle-En.  When he told her she only need trust in Christ and then be baptized, her pale blue eyes seemed to come alive like the rumbling of grey-green clouds rolling in off the ocean.

It reminded him of home for some reason.

At her baptism, Charelle-En (which meant the power of En) was given a new name, as was the custom in those days.  He immediately thought of "Sharon" being the closest name from the Bible.  She accepted it gladly and was baptized one crisp autumn morn and then removed as quickly as possible from the stinging cold stream.

Mac Crieche didn't fare so well.  As he was about to climb ashore the first of many approached him, wanting to do the same.

Not only did he have to stand in the icy water long enough to perform a dozen more ceremonies, but he also took the time to question each to determine whether they really understood what it meant.

And so it went.  By the time a year had passed, about half the village had accepted and was becoming a vibrant, perhaps even overzealous, Christian community.

With all of this going on, it didn't take very long to get the priests of En in a fit.  More and more, Mac Crieche would gather a crowd for a sermon at the town square, only to find the place occupied by a ceremony to En.

Neither side believed this was coincidence.

As fate would have it, at one of these events, he was surprised to spot Gorki (or "Gerome"), one of his converts.

Later, when questioned, the man said that he believed everything the Bible said, but feared the wrath of En if he did not see him among the people.  He said most of the people felt the same way, attending the gatherings of Christ out of faith, but still doing lip-service to En out of fear.

Mac Crieche was confused by Gerome's words.  How could these people still attend the bloody ceremonies of En?  Unless...  They believe the idol of En was truly alive and powerful!

He knew what he must do.  All at once his dream made sense.  If he should topple the stone idol and he could demonstrate its true powerlessness.

Yet... if he dared perform such an audacious act, the wrath of the priests of En would be terrible.  To his credit, he had no fear for his own sake, yet Gerome and Sharon and the rest, they stood to lose everything!

How could he choose between utterly eliminating such a great evil, yet at the expense of those who loved and trusted him most?

What to do? ... What to do?

The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Space Traipse: A Review.

Hey all,

If you've been enjoying the Juggernaught weekly serial, here is another online book you might want to try.  I've been following it for many weeks now, and have literally laughed out loud with each installment.  Since I liked it so much, I decided to post my review for no other reason than to spread the word.

The story is "Space Traipse : Hold My Beer" by Karina Fabian.
"Space: It’s huge! You think Texas has big skies? Ain’t nothing compared to the view out the viewscreens. And it’s just full of wild places and interesting peoples. These are the adventures of the HMB Impulsive. Its mission: to explore those new and interesting worlds (wilder the better!), to seek out new peoples and to boldly do what no one else has the guts to do! Don’t believe me? Hold my beer!"

Like you may be able to deduce from the title and the intro, it is a science fiction Star Trek parody.  (Space=Star, Traipse=Trek, get it?)  Yet while the parody aspect is certainly there, the world and the characters stand on their own.  That, as opposed to those parodies where practically every word has to be a mirror of the target world.

And in case you hadn't also gathered by the sub-title "hold my beet", content-wise it isn't exactly squeaky clean.  I mean, nothing awful, but probably not good to share with your 3rd grade Sunday School class if you know what I mean.

What I like most is the author's style.  Between her reckless anything-can-happen universe, and writing style replete with literary gags, I'd say the story seems like something Douglas Adams might have written.

For instance, in the latest installment, there is an explosion and one of the extras gets to take over for the injured crewman.  While everybody else is busy worrying about the battle going on, he's all smiling texting his mom about his new promotion.  "If it was his last [day] alive, he wanted her to know he died relevant."

Anyway, if you like online serieses and don't mind a bit of redneck-ish humor, I heartily recommend giving Space Traipse a try!

Live Your Adventure!
-E.L. Fletcher