Amish partner

If you are looking for ample work space and an attractive, classical desk, Amish Partners, also known as double desks or double pedestal desks, may be right for you. These desks have enough space to share, so they are ideal for couples, business partners or large families in which multiple people may need a desk. Amish Barot Partner at PJT Partners New York, New York 500+ connections. Join to Connect. PJT Partners. New York University. Report this profile; Activity. Amish singles cherish the old-fashioned ways, sure, but they're open to new possibilities when love is concerned. Get to know someone from your area and find your ideal fit. Embrace new things only to find what is of the deepest value - meaningful relationships. Beliefs and way of life. Humility, family, community, and separation from the world are the mainstays of the Amish.Everyday life and custom are governed by an unwritten code of behaviour called the Ordnung, and shunning (Meidung) remains an integral way in which the community deals with disobedient members. In formal religious doctrine, the Amish differ little from the Mennonites. Amish Rana Managing Partner at RANA ENGINEERING CO. Silvassa, Daman and Diu, India 143 connections. Join to Connect. RANA ENGINEERING CO. IIPM, PUNE. Report this profile; About. Experience with Thermax India Ltd. PUNE as TRAINEE. Experience. Managing Partner RANA ENGINEERING CO. Nov 2014 – Present 5 years 11 months. Amish Patel Partner at PwC Oxted, England, United Kingdom 500+ connections. Join to Connect. PwC. Imperial College London. Report this profile; About. Partner at PwC Consulting focussed on leading digitally enabled transformation programmes in the transport and broader infrastructure sectors.

M4M or F4F zombie apocalypse plots

2020.09.20 22:50 bubbledpp M4M or F4F zombie apocalypse plots

Late to all parties but early to the important one, people, the spooky festivities approach and of course its time to get creepy!
I’m an experienced role player looking for someone over 21 to come up with interesting stories about survivors sorting out the challenges that come with the end of the world as we know it. Ideally it’d be horror-ish and adventure-ish in genre, as opposed to full dramas. I’m looking for more science-based zombies here, so modified viruses or a new strain of rabies are my jam, I don’t really like magical zombies or uncanny solutions like covering oneself with zombie juice to avoid being detected. Unless you want a medieval scenario, then I could for sure see necromancy as a source, we could come up with interesting plots for it. I already have a few ideas.
Detail and rich characters are a must for me, I write around one paragraph each reply as a bare minimum but of course I can and will write more if that’s what my partners are into. For the plot, I have a couple of vague ideas but it’d depend on what sort of character you’d like to play. Here’s a couple of them:
A) One of our characters is a cop, the other has just gotten arrested for some drunken disturbance, he hit a guy who attacked him right in the head with the decorative autographed baseball bat that had been hanging from the wall in the bar. Of course, the aggressor was a zombie and we see the characters finding out as they come back to chaos at the police station.
B) Our characters are strangers waiting at an ER to get minor injuries tended to, all hell breaks loose while they do,
C) Our characters are friends and were out camping for the weekend and come back home to chaos.
D) The apocalypse is well underway and one of our characters is a forest ranger who has become used to surviving and helping people around, the other character is part of an isolated community (similar to Amish) and had no idea what was happening until the sickness reached his village and he had to escape. They find each other that way.
If you’re interested in having a little romance to go with the apocalypse, then you should know I only do m/m and f/f with a preference for the former. Can’t be convinced otherwise, sorry.
I’d love to hear any ideas you have! Pm me if you’re interested.
submitted by bubbledpp to RoleplayPartnerSearch [link] [comments]


2020.09.13 22:44 msk97 Anna Marie Maxwell background?

I’ve been procrastinating work all day and reading the maxwell’s blog, and I’m so curious about Anna Marie and her background. They fascinate me in general. Though (obviously) all the Maxwell spouses are very conservative, she looks straight out of Amish country, and her parents (pictured while she was getting cancer treatment) don’t.
I also spent some time looking into Melanie and her family, and though she has 9 siblings, most of the others definitely don’t seem fundie (one of her sisters posted something about BLM and also wears pants/crop tops/shorts, from photos the others also seem much more normal).
I think this question comes from the fact that none of the daughters have ever married, and people hypothesize that it’s because no one meets Steve’s standards for a partner for his daughters (in a sexist way). I wonder where they find women who do?? For some (like OfJesse), they clearly come from a fundie family, but even Chelsy seems too liberal for the Maxwells.
submitted by msk97 to FundieSnark [link] [comments]


2020.09.13 20:18 ThrowRA29585838 Need advice about a break up with the possibility of getting back together

Hi all. Looking for some advice. My ex partner (23) and I (22) left our 7-month serious relationship (we had solid plans for our future) on a “there’s no expectation of a relationship but in a couple/few months let’s talk again to see where we’re at” note. I wanted to set boundaries for what felt like a break to me (a period of time with no contact with an expected time to talk again — a few months — and rules to avoid romantic intimacy (defined by both of us) with other people to ensure we’re both focusing on healing ourselves). It feels like they didn’t want to set the boundaries that come with a healthy break but still wanted me to wait for them to finish their Rumspringa (not literal one, this is figurative lol. They’re not Amish). It feels like they wanted to be able to do whatever they wanted while keeping me on the back burner for when they feel ready to approach a relationship again. While I definitely don’t want to get back into a committed relationship right now or in the near future, I love this person very much, and it feels hurtful for them not to be willing to set boundaries so that I can feel comfortable talking again in the future. I’m not currently dating or having hook-ups, and I’m in therapy, working on a lot of the issues that came up during our relationship and within myself. They said they were going into therapy but we stopped talking before I knew if they had actually gotten one.
A big source of our miscommunication was that they see sex as a casual fun activity to have — no intimacy — and I see sex as a meaningful intimate practice to share with someone I love deeply. Their source of intimacy comes from quality time, deep discussions, and physical touch besides sex. I see all of that plus sex as romantic intimacy. Some reasons why I feel they feel this way:
  1. we were raised in a religion that teaches sex before marriage as the greatest sin after denying God (yeah, not even murder is first). This constant reinforcement from the church we were raised in and then relatives and friends who strongly believe this leads to weird beliefs and anxieties around sex, whether in a casual setting or serious relationship. The first time I had sex I had several panic attacks and I sobbed because I felt like I was going to hell — even though I felt ready to have sex with the partner I was with at the time. I’ve worked on this in trauma therapy, so I don’t feel guilty having sex before marriage anymore, but I still feel like sex is something to be shared between people who deeply love one another rather than a casual coping mechanism to work through the anxieties around sex — especially when there’s a possibility of a relationship still. I’m also on the demisexual scale and all the times I’ve had casual sex I was pretty fucked up (like high or drunk) and trying to find sources of connectivity when in reality I was trying to escape myself and my situations. So it’s really hard for me to understand how sex as a casual activity, for fun, isn’t at its root seeking some type of companionship and to fill in the emptiness left after a breakup within this context and within the context of what my partner has shared with me concerning their views on sex (to work through the anxieties created by religious upbringing, I try to see sex as a casual fun activity with no intimacy attached).
  2. Their main source of intimacy comes from quality time, kissing, cuddling, holding hands, deep discussions. To me, that plus sex are all intimate activities. You can literally have a romantic intimate interaction with anyone based on this criteria, especially while casually hooking up with people after getting to know them on a date. For context, my ex and I met while we were both casually dating. Then we fell hard for each other. So my anxiety comes from a place where I feel like the same thing could happen with another person. They could find a person while casually dating/hooking up and before they had time to work through their personal issues, they fall in love again and repeat the same pattern as before. Essentially, I feel like they’re not giving themself the space and time to heal internally because they’re having sex casually which can further distort development of healthy relationships (both with others and with the self).
  3. I’m also a gender and sexuality major, plus my parent is a trauma therapist, so I understand how sex is used as a coping mechanism when trying to distance oneself from a previous relationship. I have read and studied MULTIPLE research studies on healthy sexuality and sex practices (on all sides of the spectrum) and most, if not all, of them discuss how casual sex rarely leads to fulfillment and positive self discovery. So I’m seeing this situation from a pretty educated, yet emotional, standpoint. I’ve thought about this a lot and I just struggle to see how sex is needed to figure oneself out while still expecting to talk to a previous serious partner about the gradual possibility of a committed relationship again. To me it feels like an unhealthy coping mechanism to avoid and escape the imbalances and behavioral patterns that are contributing to one’s self worth and self efficacy.
All of this aside, I mainly feel hurt and frustrated because the way they put it felt so dismissive and invalidating of my feelings. We broke up instead of doing a break because they didn’t want to feel like they were cheating on me when they went on casual hookups. But they still want us to be able to talk in a couple-few months to see where we’re both at in terms of what we want and how we want to achieve it together. To me, that feels invalidating of what I wanted in order for me to feel comfortable to talk again and heal because they wouldn’t consider setting some intimacy boundaries based on what I was comfortable with because to them, their casual dating and sex aren’t intimate and they’ve set boundaries for themself to avoid romantic intimacy. But they weren’t taking into consideration what I view as intimate and how their actions feel invalidating and dismissive because they aren’t willing to consider what I feel comfortable with in order for us to talk about the possibility of us again.
At this point, I’m choosing to let go of it all and treat it like an official break up with the possibility of us talking again. If I’m ready to talk when they reach out, I plan on bringing this all up, including the fact that I’m not waiting for them. I love them so much, and I see the potential for us, because when we’re both healthy, we are extremely compatible and super happy together — and we have the potential to be even healthier and happier. But I’m also trying to figure out if this was their way of passively ending the relationship for good but keeping me as an option just in case they want to work toward a relationship again but don’t want to go through the trouble of finding someone else. Maybe that’s really cynical and unfair. I’m just trying to get some outside perspective. So, I guess the advice I’m looking for is, am I super out of touch with this situation? Am I just not fully understanding their healing process? How should I go about healing while still keeping the possibility of us open? Because I really do think we have a lot of potential, and I just want some outside perspective.
Edit: some clarity edits and removing moral judgment questions
submitted by ThrowRA29585838 to relationship_advice [link] [comments]


2020.08.18 18:14 eveemma Pennsylvanian Elvish and misunderstanding the word NO.

So! I’m the DM of a completely homebrewed campaign that has now been ongoing for several years. I’ve sat on this story for years because I’ve been waiting for the dust to settle on this. It contains consent issues, but nothing graphic. Just be safe while reading.
I decided to DM before I’d ever had the chance to play dnd. I made characters for a few well intentioned games that other DMs just never got off the ground, listened to some play podcasts, and decided that I would just put my feelers out on twitter and DM for the first people to respond to me. I grabbed 8 new players before I capped it and we got off to a chaotic start.
8 is a huge number of players, but I was running my first arc as a self contained trial of the story to get a feel for DMing and make sure it was doable for the long run. As expected, 2 players were busy and left very early on because of scheduling conflicts and the remaining 6 consisted of people I considered good friends. One of them was an ex of mine. More on that to come.
We had a varied party who put a lot of work into their backstories and brought some really complex and interesting characters to the table. We even homebrewed some classes to better fit a few of them since the whole world was custom. I gave my players a map and asked them to point out where they wanted to be from. It all went well until one of the players, my ex, said “the southernmost place. I want it to be like the Amish country. I’m Pennsylvanian elvish haha get it”. We’re going to call them Ex for this post and their character Rob.
Right off the bat, there are obvious issues here (such as Amish people being real people, but never mind that in the face of lulz amirite? For clarification: Ex has never to my knowledge met or spoken to an Amish person, nor are they a part of that community.). I was a much weaker person back then I guess because I said “okay” even though I didn’t agree with it. Ex got discouraged easily and I wanted to make this easier. So on we went. Rob’s backstory was that of a half elf who was not loved by their elven mother for being half. Rob felt completely abandoned by their society and decided to travel while loathing magic and being weirdly racist regarding elves. Again. There was a lot going on and I was new to this, so I just let it happen and hoped that Ex would bring the depth and personality needed to make this a fulfilling character. Key word. Hoped.
Ex had not mentioned this racism at any point prior to the first session, so I made the tavern owners two married elven women who issued the party’s first quest. Because they were elves, Rob threw tantrums and even spit on one of them at one point during an early session. Rob never attempted to interact with any of the party members (thankfully no elves) and skulked because I decided not to punish a brand new party of characters who were essentially strangers because of one unruly member.
Set loose on their quest, everyone sought out clues to solve the mystery except for Rob, who wanted to seek out “furry women” in particular. I asked “tabaxi?” And Ex said “Ja, ze furries.” In some tortured german accent. (Not german-Dutch. That’s for sure) Ex is whitebread from the middle of nowhere America and it shows. Rob proceeds to split away from the party no matter what in search of these “furry women” who had not even been mentioned to exist prior to the hunt. If I do not let Rob do this, Ex outlines in detail how upset Rob is that he has to participate. This upset often manifests in sabotaging group efforts and being rude to every character they meet.
I got the picture that I would have to say something or invent something to interest Ex so that Rob could be more involved in the party, so I resolved to make a traveling group of tabaxi who were in town for the festival taking place and started a small sub plot. Little did I know…I would not need them. In fact, they would be totally ignored after a weird session of ogling them and making weird passes towards them. Regrettably, Rob would get a new focus. An npc I made to be a roadblock for the party would become Rob’s obsession.
We’re going to call this npc Eric.
Eric was given a gimmick to start. He ran a discount store by the docks where he sold fantasy weed and oddities. Mostly, I wanted to make fun items and let my players try to haggle with an over dramatic and superfluous salesman who, if the right buttons were pressed, could assist their quest. Eric has a slimy demeanor that he wears as a deterrent. I wanted the party to dislike him but have to get close.
I’m an artist, so I draw all my characters for games. I just like to give my players the visual. The second I dropped Eric’s design in our chat, we were bombarded with messages like “YOU MADE HIM FOR ME??? MY TASTES ALL IN ONE MAN??? JUST FOR ME???” From Ex. It was very uncomfortable and I think all I did was chuckle nervously and press onwards. The rest of the party thought Eric was ridiculous and wanted to see more of him, though. So I let the scene continue. They bought a quest item off him and got some information for their quest and knew he had more. Unfortunately, Rob was unsurprisingly just as enamored with Eric and started trying to come onto him right there in front of god and everybody. This was becoming a pattern, so I resolved that Eric hated Rob and just wanted the party to leave. Take your half elf and go.
Everyone in our campaign at the time was 20+, so it was not like expressing interest in a character or trying to “romance” anyone was off limits. It just wasn’t what we were trying to do at the moment and when a character says “no” you would hope that after a few failed rolls AND improv attempts you would back off, but no. Of course not.
With one failed meeting down, the party continued on with the clues they had. They would need to need to make a deal with Eric for more plot information and every time, Rob would do something uncomfortable to him no matter how many ways I tried to stop the scene or kindly redirect the group focus. Ex seemed really determined to romance a character who made a huge display of saying No. One of the terms of the deal made with the party had to be that the party would specifically keep Rob from touching him.
I started hitting Rob with penalties that the rest of the group didn’t face since trying to stop it did nothing, party members frequently rolled on R to tie him up or knock him out so they could speak with other npcs without offending them or inciting fights that didn’t need to happen.
It got so bad that when the group descended on the final dungeon of the arc, Rob refused to assist them because he didn’t “feel like it” and tried to leave so I split the party in an earthquake and made Rob play along. Ex fought me at every turn about doing anything remotely related to the game unless it was “looking at ze furries” or “giving Eric a good berry” and at this point, we were 6 sessions in and I had had enough of wrangling them into playing. Every other word out of their mouth had Rob doing something to screw with another party member or run away from a fight where they could have been useful. Rob was a Druid. Druids in 5e kick serious ass.
But not when they turn into a rat for the whole dungeon and cling to another character’s shoe, arguing that they take no damage from it.
The quest line wraps up and the players decide that they like the story and they would like to continue, so I fleshed out the characters they liked the most and let those characters become relevant to the rest of the plot. Eric, as he was loved by everyone and too much by one, was included in that. The party decided they liked him and adopted him into their group. This meant he became a DM NPC of sorts. They don’t always have the best reputation, but having a DM npc in a totally homebrewed world was actually a great way for me in the early days to work on showing its history and inundating my players into it.
The party embarked towards their next quest location after deciding on a direction. It was a few days voyage in game, so I implemented a social feature where the players got to pick another character (PCs and NPCs) and have a small scene with them. It felt like a great way to let the party bond and get in some fun scenes.
Rob picked Eric of course.
Prior to Eric becoming the DM NPC, Eric showed a few moments of weakness to the party and everyone treated it like a totally normal person would. It was fun and good improv. I am not someone who plays self inserts, but I did give Eric some history with a long dead king that had some undertones of my own experiences unrelated to Ex (but that they were well aware of). Ex continued to see Eric as the object of adoration and uncomfortable affection and tried to co-opt the trauma to a point where our own ended relationship began to bleed into the characters in ways I did not want to experience.
[QUICK IRL CONSENT ISSUES WARNING]
Because our relationship ended when I said no and they refused to respect my no. Which lead to being touched and kissed even after I explicitly stated why I could not physically endure it at the time (Chronic illness flare ups, being touched and jostled made them sooooo much worse. They could clearly see how much pain I was in and just kept doing it anyway saying they "couldn't help themself") There were a myriad of other things that lead to the breakup, but they aren't relevant. It was mainly the disrespect for my comfort and person.
[END WARNING]
Ex seriously stood by their decision to continue to be outwardly racist towards every elf in game and continue to use that accent while calling themself a “furry chaser”, so when we continued onto the next arc and they refused to change, i couldn’t take it anymore and peeled their behavior like an orange. I sent them a DM asking them to change their behavior or get the boot and Ex chose the boot. I told them that if they couldn’t handle being in a campaign DMed by an ex and stop flirting with every single character they find that isn’t an elf that they’re going to spit on, they would have to leave. So they did. I had asked the opinions of my players and it was clear to them that Ex did not see Eric as a character, but rather an uncomfortable second place to the real deal.
We decided to kill Rob off for fun after Ex booted themself out for refusing to give up sexual harassment.
The weirdest part to me is still that Eric is an elf. He’s a drow. But that is still an elf. Before I released the image of Eric, Ex also thought he was “old and wizardy” and wanted to jump his old bones, then accused me of pulling a 180 in making Eric a goth twink. I had not said anything about Eric’s appearance that should have given this assumption. Second to that was how often they insisted that we should include the 3.5e wiki's Vore feat. I have no issues with kink, if that's your thing COOL. But the mechanic is broken and I wasn't dealing with that.
TLDR: Ex partner tries to come onto my npcs to the point of mirroring the sexual harassment that ended our relationship. They Belligerently refused to stop playing a racist caricature and drop a grating and fake accent and annoyed everyone else for 10 sessions. Fail on my part for staying friends, but at least I got a story out of it.
Just for the sake of telling the story, I omitted the horrors done unto the other player characters, but now that the seal has been broken, I kind of hope they tell their tales of struggling against this character as well.
Edit: I changed R to Rob because I hate letter names, Dunno why I did it to start.
submitted by eveemma to dndhorrorstories [link] [comments]


2020.08.04 22:46 Erutious Bright Farm

“And so, we commit Malcolm Tyler to the earth. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust."
The dirt hit the top of the child-sized coffin as it slid into its final resting place.
John just sat there, surrounded by family and friends and yet utterly alone. Malcolm had been ten, on the cusp of the age of reason, and as John looked at the picture of him, that sat amongst the flowers, he could swear it was one of his baby pictures. Malcolm had loved baseball, superheroes, Star Wars, and old video games. He had clung to his father's passions, and the two had always been close. As he watched the coffin slip into the earth, John felt the tears slide down his face. They were naked and unashamed.
The seat next to him was empty too. His wife, Claire, was still in the hospital after the accident that had taken their son. The doctors had told him that she would likely recover but that she might never walk again. They had told him this as though it were a spectacular consolation prize. "Your son will never play in the majors or even see the Star Wars movie he was so looking forward to, but you can rest assured that your now cripple wife will be home as soon as we're done milking your insurance for all its worth."
He sat there and accepted the pats, the condolences, the meaningless words that fell on him like daggers.
His son was gone, and these people were telling him how sorry they were for his loss.
They didn't know loss. They were going to climb into their vehicles, with mostly complete partners, and go back to their homes so they could hug their own children and be glad it hadn't been them who'd lost someone important. They would put the funeral announcement in a drawer by the door where they kept their keys or their change, and one day they would drag it out by mistake and think how sad it had been that such a youngster had died in the prime of his life. Then they would throw it away or put it back in the drawer if they were sentimental and probably never think about it again.
He seethed over these thoughts as he sat in the hard plastic chair which had been provided by Copeland Funeral Home.
He seethed over these people and their routine, unbroken lives until he was the only one there.
Then John got up and went home.
John sat and watched TV, eating his tv dinner without much enthusiasm. The turkey was lumpy and had only cooked in the middle. The mashed potatoes were still half-frozen, and the gravy was like liquid lava. On TV, the news anchor was talking about the Green Man murders. The latest victim, Shelly Rhodes, had been discovered in an alley. The police were looking for anyone who might have seen the perpetrators. John watched, apathetically, as he spooned the mush into his mouth. A commercial came on for Anders Tires, and he tuned it out.
Malcolm had been dead for three days, and John had done little but wallow in his misery.
The house was like a monument to better times.
He had stood in the entryway most of the afternoon after the funeral, staring at a photo of him and Malcolm at the beach. Claire had taken it after they built that sandcastle they were both hunkered over. They had been at the shore for a week, Malcolm as brown as a nut after spending six days on the beach. The castle had begun as a lopsided thing before John had gotten involved. The plastic molds Malcolm had bought at the beachside stand were shoddy things, and John had known a thing or two about sandcastle building. Together they had constructed an elegant castle, complete with drawbridge and moat. The turrets had grown out of the sand, and the flags had been leaves plucked from a nearby tree.
Claire had been laughing as she snapped the photo, and the two of them had been grinning like fools over their accomplishment.
John felt tears fall from his eyes, saw them tumble into the unappetizing mashed potatoes, and spooned them into his mouth anyway.
Malcolm's room was the worst part of the house.
The room stood at the very top of the staircase, easily viewable from the downstairs landing. John had stood in the dark last night and just looked at the doorway from the bottom step. The nightlight cast the scene in a strange Shadowverse. He could vaguely see the baseball players trapped in their glory as they hung glossing from the walls with push pins. He could see the bookshelf where John had taken the night's bedtime story. He could see the balsa wood glider where it hung from the ceiling, the broken wing mocking him. How many times had John promised to fix it? How many times had he told Malcolm that he would go buy a tube of airplane glue? How many times had he gone to the store and not done it?
He had thought he had time.
He had thought he could do it some other when.
He had been wrong.
He had slept in his recliner every night after that.
The phone rang, dragging him from his misery. The picture on the screen was that of his wife, smiling like she was the happiest woman in the world, as Malcolm grinned from her hugging arms. John felt a sob creep up his throat. He would have to change that. He answered it on the sixth ring, saying hello without much enthusiasm.
"Hi, John." His wife sounded tired. She sounded like maybe she had been crying too. She sounded like John felt; ready to just give up and join their son in his eternal rest.
John found he didn't have much of a feeling about that.
"Hi, Claire."
"You didn't come to see me today."
He didn't have an answer to that, so he said nothing.
"Are you okay, John? I'm worried about you."
John thought about the question. He was not, he decided, okay, but if he told his wife that then she would worry. He hadn't come to see her today for that reason. Not for the reason he suspected that she suspected that he blamed her for their son's death. He no more blamed Claire than he blamed the car she had totaled when a semi-truck, driven by a man who was asleep at the wheel, had crushed the car against the guard rail. He didn't blame her for that; it was an event outside of her control.
He hadn't come to see her, because she would look at him and know that something was deeply wrong with him. She would see the dark circles, the pallid skin, the dirty face cleaned only by the tears that seem to run tirelessly, and she would worry. He didn't care about any of that, not really, but if she told a doctor about these things, then John might spend the next few months as a drooling zombie while they pumped him full of dope.
John did not want to dope his pain away.
He wanted to wallow in it like a pig in filth.
"John? Are you...are you mad at me?" He could hear the tears on the verge of bursting.
"No, Kay, I'm just tired." He said, using her pet name, "I haven't slept well since," his own tears slid out now, pale tracts of moisture that always seemed on the verge of falling, "since the funeral."
"I wanted to be there for you and for him, but…"
"I know." He lied.
He knew very little that he was confident of.
"I just wanted to make sure you were okay, John. I wish I were there to help you through this. I wish you were here to help me through this."
She was crying now, he could almost hear her tears as they slid against the phone.
He stared at the tv like a husk, incapable of feeling empathy for his sobbing wife.
"I know, but someone has to pay the bills; now more than ever."
That was a crock, said a voice in his brain. John had no more been to work than he'd been upstairs. Mr. Beatle had given him bereavement, and he had taken it without a fight. He had done little but sit morosely and fulfill his body's needs when they clawed against his consciousness. Feed the machine, empty the tank, sleep, rinse, repeat.
It was all very tedious.
"You sound tired, I'll let you get to sleep. Will I see you tomorrow?"
"Yeah," he said, lying again, "I'll swing by after work and see how you're doing."
"I'd like that. I miss you, John, I love you."
"I love you too, Kay."
The lies came easily.
He hung up the phone and continued to wallow.
"Are you unhappy?" Asked the man on the tv. He was a tall fellow, sleek black hair, and a thin mustache that looked oily. He was wearing a butcher apron over a white shirt and smiling into the camera like he could see through John's tv screen. It was a little unsettling.
John kept watching, figuring the commercial would be over soon.
"Feeling empty? Perhaps seeking something you've lost?"
John shoveled more food into his mouth but felt his eyes locked on this greasy salesman.
"Here at Bright Farm, we pride ourselves on helping those who are lost come back into the light. Whatever your seeking, you can be sure that we have it here at Bright Farms. Our councilors are here 24/7 to,"
John lifted the remote, a job that seemed harder than it should have, and flipped over to the next channel.
"make sure the light does not escape you in your time of need."
What the hell?
It was the same commercial.
He clicked over again.
"Maybe you've recently had a crisis of faith? Suffered an event that's made you question the existence of a wide and shining God. Maybe you've lost your way, no longer feel that life is worth living,"
John has changed the channel seven times while the man was taking but found him on every channel. For some reason, the man-made him uncomfortable, and he wanted to see anything on the tube at this point. A baseball game, an old movie, a stupid sitcom, anything but this man and his smiling face. As he watched, the smile seemed to stretch under that mustache, and as he clicked the button to turn the set off, he realized that the man's eyes were fixed directly on him. The man was staring at him through the tv, and the veins in his eyes seem to pulsate as he watched.
"maybe you've even lost someone you loved. A mother, a brother,"
The eyes got very intense, and no matter how many times he hit the off button, the tv stayed on.
"A son?"
He was staring right at him now and clearly only at him.
"He's here, John. He's here, and all you have to do is come to him. What are you waiting for, John? Why are you just sitting there, John? He misses you, JOHN!" The man was screaming from the tv, and John was aware of his dinner leaking into the sweat pants he was wearing. He had upset the little plastic tray, but it hardly seemed to matter. The man on the tv was beating his fists against the glass front and yelling at John, questioning him, asking why he didn't come to his son if he missed him so damn much?
John screamed, and as he did, he came awake all at once.
The screen was snow, and he had indeed spilled his dinner.
He turned off the television, cleaned up his chair, and thought longingly about going up to bed.
It only took him a few minutes at the bottom of the stairs to return to his recliner.
He slept fitfully.
He woke up early the next morning, bright and early. This was something he seemed unable to shake from his old life. His job had expected him to arrive at eight AM every day, and his brain seemed hardwired to wake up at six am every morning. He thought about going to work, maybe a day at the office would set him right. He could sit in his office and go over accounts and feel like his usual self. He could pretend that, when the five o'clock bell rang, he could go home to his lovely wife and best buddy in their two bed, two bath home, and when he got off and drove home, he would find it just that way.
He only stood at the foot of the stairs for twenty minutes, seeing the pennants on the wall and watching the broken plane hanging suspended from the ceiling before he turned away and went to the kitchen instead.
There would be no normal life for him.
Never again.
The round cereal clinked into the bowl cheerily. The box declared that it was Space Acers, and it had been one of Malcolm's favorites. The marshmallows stood out amongst the grain circles. They were the kind of neon color that only a kid could love, the lumpy multicolor of poor craftsmanship, and lack of real care. He saw a tear fall into them as he studied them. He remembered how Malcolm had sung the jingle every time he ate them. He remembered how Malcolm could name all seven different marshmallow shapes, remembering when he'd gotten so excited over that Captain Acer decoder ring he'd found in a box last year.
He saw another tear fall into the cereal and turned to get the milk. He opened the door and scanned the pristine white glow of the refrigerator for the carton. He was momentarily worried that they were out, but suddenly, the Happy Cow's face came into view. When he picked it up, he got a nasty shock as he realized that Bright Farms Diary was printed over the head of the smiling cow. Had they always provided their milk? He was sure it had been a different company last week. He turned the carton, reading the description on the side, feeling a kind of surreal haze role over him.
It told how Bright Dairy cows were the happiest cows in the world.
It told how Bright Dairy was the leading provider of Dairy for his area.
Then he turned the carton and felt it slip out of his numb fingers. As it fell, he could clearly see the Missing Child picture on the side of the carton. The black and white photo made it hard to make out his exact features, but John would know the boy's sandy brown hair and green eyes, even in black and white. He was smiling, as he had been in the beach picture, and under the picture was the legend "Found Child: Answers to Malcolm. Misses his father. Wants to know why his father hasn't come to get him. Wants to know why his father doesn't love him."
The milk puddled on the ground as his son's face stared up at him from the floor.
He felt his tear patter into the pool as he looked down at the spilled milk.
"What do you mean you're out of milk?"
John had been to three different stores, and each of them had been out of milk. The first two had little signs taped up on their milk coolers, saying how sorry they were that they were out of milk. There had been no one to yell at there, but at the third store, he had found someone to yell at. The man in the plastic apron bore it well, clearly not his first irate customer today, and flashed his pasted on grin in the face of John's ire.
"Sorry, sir, but the company had a little trouble with their truck today. You could try another store, I suppose, but I'm guessing they're all in the same boat."
Smug prick, John thought.
He knew they were all in the same boat.
"You could always go down to Bright Farms and get the milk yourself." The man added, taking a step away as though trying to distance himself from the conversation.
John watched him go, breathing out disgustedly as he went back to the parking lot to find his car.
He guessed he was going to Bright Farms.
Bright Farms looked almost idyllic.
John had driven for almost an hour, making his way out of the hustle and bustle of the city and into the more rural areas that surrounded it. Here was the farm belt, the farms with acres of land all planted with vegetables in neat rows or with livestock happily munching grass in the fields. John saw big red barns and farmhouses with long porches, people moving about between them as they went about their daily lives. The road ran on and on, and when his GPS said he had arrived, he almost didn't believe it. The farm had seemed like such a strange place in the infomercial. Some kind of farm akin to a backwoods gospel tent where miracles happened, or at least they claimed they did.
This place looked like the place in the Hidden Valley commercials.
The road turned left onto a hard-packed dirt track. John could see fields ripe with produce, an orchard in the distance with happy pickers at work, a long pair of barns for cows or sheep maybe, and several tall wooden houses that looked almost Amish. The sign over the road read "Bright Farms" in cheery white letters. The place seemed downright peaceful, downright wholesome.
John turned his car down the road and drove towards the cluster of buildings.
There were eight two-story houses built of dark brown wood. Heavy windows looked down from the buildings, and to anyone on the ground, they looked like disapproving eyes. Among them, as though surrounded, was a squat little building with a long porch complete with rockers. A sign hung across the roof declared it to be the General Store. John thought it was as good a place as any to find some information, so he mounted the steps and went inside.
A bell tinkled overhead merrily.
The inside was a packed but orderly arrangement of everything one might need for frontier life at the turn of the century. There were long shelves stacked with sacks of beans and corn, flour and sugar, bolts of cloth and spools of thread, and an overwhelming smell of brine that led him to a huge pickle jar near the front of the store. Behind a long counter, stood a man in a butchers apron, his dark hair and small mustache looking eerily familiar, wearing the biggest smile John had ever seen. He stared intently at John, and the attention made his skin crawl.
"Morning stranger, are you here for the milk?"
"I guess," John said.
The man cocked his smiling head, "Pardon me for saying so, sir, but you don't really seem sure."
"I...I seem to be drawn here for some reason lately. I see your commercials and your products, and they seem to be calling me here."
The man cocked his head to the side and then snapped his fingers loudly, "I thought you looked familiar, your John, right?"
John jumped a little, "How do you know my name?"
"Oh, we've been waiting for you. We've been keeping something very special for you, it's in the barn. Come on."
The shopkeeper went off into the room behind the counter, beckoning as he left. John felt drawn to follow him, but as he stepped, he contemplated. Was he really going to just follow this stranger into the back of his store? These people clearly wanted him here for some reason. Why give them what they wanted? Unless...unless they might actually have…
"Coming?" called a voice from the back.
John was around the counter before he could stop himself.
He followed him into the back of the store, a shadowy mountain of creaking shelves, but the man in the apron was already standing by an open back door. He led him out into the bright dooryard and pointed to the long cow shed he had seen before. If he had thought that it looked too big from the road, now it seemed to stretch off towards the field for too long. It wasn't just the length either, the shed looked odd somehow. It looked like the kind of place that held secrets best left unfound, like a freakshow tent or the back room of a snake handlers' revival. John hesitated as the man took a step toward the shed, not wanting to know what lay inside.
The man looked back, cheerily, "Don't you want to see what we have for you? He's been waiting for so long."
"Who?" John asked, but the man was already walking towards the shed, and John had to step quickly to catch up.
The shed door creaked open ominously as the shopkeeper slid it to the side. He reached inside and fumbled against the wall until a loud snap signaled the lights to life. They clicked on rapidly, lighting overhead fluorescents snapping on in a quick pattern that lit the small wooden berths in the long cow shed. As they stepped inside, the man walked briskly, and John tried to follow as his curious eyes also tried to take in what lay inside each of the berths. Most were people, confused and naked as they sat in the straw, but some were full of objects or money or precious items. The worst were the shadowy stalls that held things with red eyes and furtive breaths. The huddled in the darkness and looked at him as he went past. Their eyes held no recognizable emotion except hate.
After a minute of quick walking, they came to a stop.
The man extended his hand towards a closed stall.
"This is it. Hurry up, he's waiting for you."
John was a few steps behind him, the berth next to this one holding a smashed in Mercedes. When he heard the man speak, his voice echoing in this strangely quiet place, John shivered a little. He didn't want to disturb the things here, many of which were rather disturbing on their own. John didn't want to know what might happen if they suddenly decided to leave their stalls and come out where they could get at him.
As he came up to the gate of his berth, he could see a small, naked boy of about ten who was sitting on the floor with his knees hugged up to his chest. A head of sandy blond hair was visible between those knees, and John felt his breath stick in his chest. The hair was soft, baby fine, and looked thick and recently washed. It piled artlessly on top of the small head, just as Malcomn's always had, and John felt the tears slide down his face as he remembered how it had poked out underneath his baseball cap when he pulled it down to get it out of his face.
Then the boy looked up with those too green eyes, and John saw Malcolm smile at him from the straw strewn floor.
"Daddy?"
The boy asked it as though he didn't dare quite believe it.
It was too much.
John felt his knees unhinge, and suddenly he was falling into darkness as the naked boy rose from the floor and came to peek at him through the stall door.
The last thing he saw before blacking out was those too green eyes as they bore into him.
He came awake with those eyes staring at him.
Someone had put him in a bed. The sheets were soft and the pillowy luxurious, but the blanket was like sandpaper as it lay atop him. The boy perched on his chest was digging it into him painfully, and as he woke up, the boy smiled and crawled to snuggle with him under the blanket. He wrapped his small arms around him and seemed to notice the uncomfortable fabric not at all. John felt the comfortable press of his sons as he lay beside him. How many days had he woken up just this way? Malcolm pressed between him and his wife as they slept together, his warmth comfortable against John's back as he wormed in between them. John wrapped his own arms around him and breathed in the scent of fabric softener, the off-brand shampoo his wife bought for them, and warm grass that always seemed to hang around Malcolm.
John opened his eyes.
He expected to wake up in his own bed, the dream evaporating around him, but Malcolm was still there.
The door opened then. The man from behind the counter walked in, his hard boots knocking on the wooden floor, and he smiled his too-wide smile at John.
"You're awake," he stated.
John sat up and put a protective arm around his son. The boy was dressed in a pair of overalls, a blue shirt beneath, and John saw that he was still wearing the clothes he had arrived in. The room was spartan, a bed and an end table being its only elements, and as the smiling man towered over them, John began to feel self-conscious. He slid out of bed, Malcolm still clinging to him, and faced the man.
"How is it that you came to have my son?"
The man shrugged, "The Farm knows what people want, it knows what people need. One day I was sweeping up, and there he was, just sittin there. He looked up with those big green eyes and asked where his daddy was, and I just knew that sooner or later you'd come looking."
John ruffled Malcomn's hair, "I'm glad I did. It seemed like everything lately was trying to bring me here."
"Are you hungry?" the smiling man asked suddenly, "Margarette, my wife, just about has lunch ready, and she'd be tickled pink if you'd join us."
John looked down into Malcomn's deep green eyes and smiled, "Sure, why not?"
They spent the rest of the day together. After lunch, Thomas took them down to feed day-old bread to the ducks in his little pond. Thomas, the smiling man, had finally introduced himself, and as he and his wife, a smiling plump woman of middle age, had fed them from their table, John couldn't take his eyes off Malcolm. The boy dug into the meal just as his boy always had like it might be the last he'd ever have, and when Margarette offered them each a piece of the pie, the boy's eyes lit up with excitement. How many birthdays had John seen that same expression cross his face as the cake came out? Malcolm caught John staring and smiled shyly at him as Margarette added a big scoop of ice cream to go with it.
After the ducks, Malcolm noticed a playground on the town commons. He drug John to it, a small clearing with wooden climbing courses and metal antiques that spun and bobbled, and as John sat and watched, other kids came over to play with Malcolm in that easy way that children often do. Watching Malcolm play, running during tag or jumping and loping during their games of make-believe, filled John with a curious mixture of hope and dread. He hoped this would never end, he hoped he had crashed his car on the way to the farm and that this was heaven, and that he could simply sit here and watch his boy play for the rest of his days. At the same time, he dreaded when this would all end, and his sadness would creep back in as the delusion or dream or whatever this was ended.
"It's best not to think too hard about it, pal."
John jumped. Thomas had seated himself next to him, the stretched skin on his mouth still fashioned into that rictus of a smile that, up close, seemed almost painful. Why did he smile like that if the act clearly hurt him? He tried to find his words, but in the face of that painful smile, they all seemed to muddy in his mind.
"To think about what?" he finally ejaculated.
"How he can be or how he came to be here. He is here, he's your son, and its best not to think about it."
John watched him as though he thought he might vanish if he looked away.
"We can make a place for you here." Thomas continued, "A place for you and Malcolm. You can be a part of this community and know the blessing of the Bright as we all do."
John snapped his gaze back to Thomas, "I'm sorry, what are you talking about?"
Thomas put his old worn hands on his knees and grinned, "Well, you're here now. We have to find the two of you a place here in the community."
"Why would I do that?" John asked, genuinely perplexed.
The smile turned confused, "Well, you can't leave. The two of you have to stay."
John felt himself growing angry but tried to keep it in check.
This man had given him an irreplaceable gift, and it wouldn't be good manners to shout at him.
"Are you...are you trying to tell me that we can't leave?" he asked through gritted teeth.
Thomas shrugged, "Of course not, you're free to leave at any time. But Malcolm, he is of the Bright. You can't take him away from here; it would be cruel to do so."
Malcolm ran up about that time, his smiling face flushed with exertion.
"Daddy, some of the kids want to know if we'll attend service with them this evening. Can we go? It sounds fun."
John collected Malcolm into his arms then and stood towering over the smiling Thomas.
"No, son, I think it's time we left. Your mother will never believe it when I show you to her." but just the thought of sharing Malcolm made John feel strange.
Thomas seemed unperturbed by John, "I wouldn't do that friend. It never ends well."
"Just leave us alone," John said, backing away, "all of you just...leave us alone."
He was running by the time he made the parking lot; Malcolm's familiar weight born easily.
John's car was conspicuously absent. He had thought it was some kind of illusion, the tan-colored car would appear when he got a little closer, but now he saw that even the ruts he had left in the dirt lot were gone. The car was missing, and he was left with few options for escape. He turned towards the road and saw the quaint wooden gate rising in the distance. It could have been fifty feet, it could have been fifty miles, John didn't care.
As the sunset at his back, he began to walk towards the gate.
"Daddy, don't, I feel sick," Malcolm whined.
John ignored him, clinging to him as he jogged for the gate. He could flag down a car once they made the road. This was a busy road, after all, and a passing trucker or traveler would take them back to the city. They could be home by bedtime, and Malcolm could sleep in his bed beneath the watchful eyes of his baseball poster and his Starwars ships that hung from the ceiling by fishing line.
"Daddy?" Malcolm's voice sounded hoarse.
The dirt puffed under his feet as he jogged. With every step, he expected a torch-bearing mob to rise up to block his path. They wouldn't want him to take this miracle child from them, something that should not exist, and they would fight to stop him from leaving. He would fight them. They would kill him, but he would fight them. He would die, but his last image would be of Malcolm as he…
"Stop, I feel sick, Daddy. I don't want to leave. I want to...I want to…"
Malcolm became dead in his arms as he jogged. The stile came up before him, and he hefted the child in his arms as he ran. Malcolm was heavy, his skin clammy, something like sweat or tears dampening John's shirt as he ran. He was suddenly fearful, what if they had poisoned him? What if they had done something to Malcolm so he couldn't leave?
He finally looked down at his precious son and screamed into what had once been his face.
John found he was holding something more akin to a lump of clay. In his arms like a child's approximation of a person. The arms were thick and lumpy, the body little more than a badly formed torso of androgynous humps, and the head was malformed, its eyes and mouth little more than scooped out holes, with tufts of hair shoved hastily into the muck. When it turned its face to him and spoke, the voice of Malcolm rasped out, and John felt that he must surely be going mad.
He fell to his knees, the gate within arms reach, and wept into the bulbous chest of the Malcolm thing. This was unbearable. To lose his son again, and in such a way as this, was unthinkable. He couldn't recover from this. If this really was some dream, then this would be the part where he woke up screaming into his pillow. Things like this didn't happen under the eye of a loving God. There was only so much pain that a man could take before he broke completely.
He knelt in the dirt and sobbed into the mushy chest of his twice lost son, praying for insanity.
Praying for an end to understanding.
It was dark when Thomas found him.
John didn't shudder or even acknowledge him when he put a hand on his shoulder.
He looked up to him, and in the moonlight, his smile looked ghoulish.
"Why?" John croaked, his face awash with the muddy flesh of his still croaking boy, "why?"
Thomas only shook his grinning head, "I tried to tell you, friend. The gifts of Bright Farm are only for those who have accepted the Bright. The miracles experienced here are not for the outside world. If you want to stay with Malcolm, then you have to stay near the Bright."
John turned back to the odd boy thing.
He stared at it for a long time.
"If I accept this Bright, my son will be returned to me?"
"As he was before," Thomas assured.
John looked away, and in the moonlight, his martyr's mask was ghastly with the mush of his son's chest.
"Show me."
Thomas took him by the hand.
He led John towards the chapel that lay behind the cowshed. Inside, a sun seemed to shine only for those within. As they approached, John could feel it baking him and felt the warmth fill him. He felt his fear, his anger, his sadness, and all his doubt burned from him. Someone by the wooden doors took the boy shape from him, and at that moment, he barely noticed. He had discovered something new, something old.
As the doors were opened and the baking Bright shone over him, he felt his lips pulled into a painful smile.
The Bright was all he ever needed.
The thing he wanted but never knew.
He was burned anew by the Bright, and it was good.
The van pulled up in the dirt parking lot of the little community. The ramp came down, and the sandy-haired woman rolled her wheelchair onto the metal slab. As it descended, she began looking at the gawking faces that had gathered to see her decent. She had been wheelchair-bound since the accident, but she refused to let it stop her. Even if she'd had to crawl, she wouldn't have let it stop her from finding John.
For six months, she'd recovered in the hospital alone.
For six months, he had ignored her phone calls.
When the bank had called to let her know that her mortgage hasn't been paid in six months, she was worried.
When the police called to tell her that her husband's car had been found, abandoned, on the stretch of road leading up to this place, she had been terrified.
When her friend, Lisa, had seen him at the farmers market selling quilts and homegrown vegetables, however, she had been furious.
He had abandoned their old life to go find himself in the country, leaving her in the ICU to fight for her life and worry about him as he slid into silence.
She meant to find him and make him answer for his absence.
The wheels of her chair didn't much care for the dirt paths that led up to the two-story houses that seemed to be the living quarters for this little community. The man on the phone had told her that John lived in the house closest to the playground, and as she rolled towards the playground, she felt her arms grow stiff and non-compliant. She sat in the dirt road and gawked at the perfect, sandy-haired boy that was now standing atop the play structure and laughing with the other overall-clad children.
Malcolm.
It was Malcolm.
He looked at her then, and she saw recognition dawn on his face. He jumped from the structure, landing in that way that only children and drunks seem able, and ran to her with guileless joy. He buried his face against her chest, rubbing his soft hair against her, and fixed her with those deep green eyes that had enchanted her since his birth. It was him, in the flesh, and as he hugged her, she could no more summon the strength to hug him back than she could have summoned the strength to strangle him to death.
"Mommy, mommy, I missed you."
She saw a man rise from the bench, and through his tangled beard, she could see that it was John. He was smiling, his face a rictus of pleasured pain. His mouth smiled, but as she saw his eyes, she felt a stab of pain rip through her heart. His eyes were pinched, screaming, and as he approached, he seemed to be begging her to run. He bent to hug her, melding against his son easily as the two embraced her like some lost relation who came back again.
"How...how is this possible, John?"
He smiled at her with his painful grin.
"Come to the Barn, Claire. All things can be found if you're willing to see the light."
submitted by Erutious to Erutious [link] [comments]


2020.08.04 15:21 Zakath87 Regionalkongress 2020 - Samstagnachmittag Teil 1

Regionalkongress 2020 - Samstagnachmittag Teil 1
So, ich hoffe ihr habt die lange Mittagspause gut genutzt um euch zu erholen. Es geht nämlich weiter im Programm und da es wieder viel zu besprechen gibt, werde ich es der Übersichtlichkeit halber wieder auf mehrere Teile aufsplitten.
---
Zu Beginn bekommen wir mal wieder das obligatorische Musikvideo zu sehen, dass uns vermitteln soll, wie viel Freude ein Leben mit Jehova mit sich bringt.
Aber aus irgendeinem Grund sind es doch nur wieder die gleichen austauschbaren Bilder von freudestrahlenden Predigern im Einsatz.
---
Nach dem Lied bekommen wir die nächste Vortragsreihe geboten. Das Thema: "Wie unsere Brüder Freude im Predigtdienst erleben in…"
Und der erfahrene Zeuge Jehovas weiß, dass es jetzt, wie in den letzten Jahren, eine Selbstbeweihräucherungstour rund um die Welt gibt, die zeigen soll, wie großartig das Predigtwerk doch ist.
So werden wir am Anfang mit Zahlen erschlagen, die offensichtlich Eindruck schinden sollen:
"2 Milliarden Dienststunden,
Über 300 000 Täuflinge,
9,6 Millionen Bibelstudien,
21 Millionen Gedächtnismahl"
Wow, ja das muss ja dann doch Jehovas Organisation sein, oder? Und um nochmal ins Detail zu gehen, wird uns der Redner (Mark Noumair) pro Kontinent in ein ausgewähltes Land führen, um uns dort den Segen Jehovas zu zeigen.
Das erinnert mich an ein Zitat von George Orwell: "Geistige Gesundheit ist eine Frage der Statistik"
---
Es geht los mit "...Afrika"
Und dort im speziellen ins Land Nigeria. Es wundert mich allerdings was am Predigtwerk in Nigeria so beeindruckend sein soll.
Laut den auf JW.borg veröffentlichen Zahlen hat es dort in den letzten Jahren einen stabilen prozentualen Zuwachs von 2% pro Jahr gegeben. Allerdings ist im gleichen Zeitraum die nigerianische Gesamtbevölkerung um 2,6% pro Jahr gewachsen.
Das bedeutet, dass die Zeugen dort im Verhältnis sogar weniger werden.
Aber solche schnöden Fakten sollen uns nicht von einem begeisternden Erfahrungsbericht abhalten. Dieser dreht sich um die beiden Brüder Gabriel (der blind ist) und Joseph (gelähmt). Und beide zusammen bilden offensichtlich ein superdynamisches Duo:

https://preview.redd.it/791ojtsk0ze51.jpg?width=648&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=fb1577edc480b8f8722a7c4a44021ec497d26754
Jetzt will ich mich natürlich nicht in behindertenfeindlichen Witzen ergießen, aber ich muss sagen, dass es mir die beiden echt schwer machen sie sympatisch zu finden. So kommen so bescheidene Aussagen wie:
„Unser Beispiel hat andere motiviert, mit dem Pionierdienst anzufangen. Sie haben überlegt: Da ist jemand der nicht laufen kann und jemand der blind ist und beide sind Pionier. Dann kann ich doch auch Pionier sein.“
und
„Wenn die Leute uns im Dienst sehen, dann danken sie Jehova oft dafür und sie motivieren uns mehr zu tun, denn sie merken, die Kraft um das zu tun, kommt nicht von uns sondern von Jehova.“
Und so erheben sie den moralischen Zeigefinger noch deutlicher mit:
„Jeder kann Jehova ehren, ob man nun eingeschränkt ist oder nicht.“
Ja, und seht nur wie glücklich sie sind!
https://preview.redd.it/uv86n0bb1ze51.jpg?width=1081&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=3799d0d675d3a06875dfb0758dd83088f280f400
Das wollt ihr doch sicherlich auch?!?
Scheinbar war das auch der Sinn dieses Videobeitrags, denn genau auf den Punkt geht auch Mark Noumair ein: „Aufgrund ihres Beispiel fragen sich andere: „Warum kann ich eigentlich nicht Pionier sein? Und vielleicht haben wir uns das auch gefragt.“
Genau, du faule Sau...du hast ja sogar beide Beine! Ab mit dir in den Pionierdienst!
---
Springen wir nach "...Asien"
So bekommen wir am Anfang von unserem Erdkundelehrer Noumair erklärt: „60 % der Weltbevölkerung leben auf diesem Kontinent. Darunter auch rund 760000 Zeugen Jehovas“
Wow…Jehova ist ja so unparteiisch!
60% aller Menschen sind Asiaten, aber komischerweise stellen sie nur knapp 9 % aller Zeugen.
„Hier [in Asien] liegen die beiden bevölkerungsreichsten Länder. China und Indien“
Und besagtem Indien werden wir uns nun ein wenig näher widmen:
Dort gab es letztes Jahr 49 743 Zeugen Jehovas...allerdings im Verhältnis zur Gesamtbevölkerung von 1366418000 Einwohnern.
Die Zeugen stellen also sagenhafte 0,0036% aller Inder. Und so kann Noumair auch zu keinem anderen Schluss kommen als:
„Was für ein Wachstumspotenzial. Über 90% der Bevölkerung wurden noch nie mit der guten Botschaft erreicht!“
Und das spricht er auch mit einer Begeisterung aus, die fast meinen ankonditionierten Klatschreflex auslöst. Man kann auch wirklich allem etwas Positives abgewinnen.
Danach wird das Beispiel eines Bibelschülers namens Sangram beleuchtet. So zeigen sich doch bei ihm schnell "geistige Fortschritte". Zum Beispiel reagiert er nicht mehr so aggressiv auf Provokationen:

https://preview.redd.it/wku14aqt2ze51.jpg?width=1015&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=6afcd927e4596267381320c6ff8c0ad1fdd209b6
Allerdings hatte er lange mit einer bestimmten Schwäche zu kämpfen...dem Genuss von Kautabak.
Und da hat sein Bibellehrer keine andere Wahl mehr gesehen als: „Weil er uns so sehr am Herzen lag, haben wir ihn zum Zahnarzt mitgenommen.“

https://preview.redd.it/4mtazmb33ze51.jpg?width=1471&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=6827de06bcff0515913706e76261c69d7ec82958
Dort erhielt er eine professionelle Zahnreinigung, die ihm offenbar ein ganz neues Leben eröffnete:
„Seit diesem Zahnarztbesuch, hat er nie wieder Tabak gekaut“

\"Morgens Aronal, abends Elmex\"
Nach dem Video fragt Noumair:„Als Sangram gelächelt hat, musstest du da auch lächeln?“
Nein, aber es hat mich zum Glück an den nächsten Vorsorgetermin erinnert!
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Verlassen wir den Subkontinent und reisen wir in das uns gut bekannte "...Europa"
Mark Noumair entführt uns dort nach Rumänien und präsentiert uns ein paar Zahlen, unter anderem, dass es dort knapp 40000 Zeugen Jehovas gäbe.
Was er allerdings verschweigt ist die Tatsache, dass es dort die letzten Jahre ein begeisterndes Wachstum von -1% jährlich gab.
Warum man ausgerechnet ein Land mit Mitgliederschwund auswählt, ist mir ein Rätsel.
Vielleicht damit die Brüder dort angesichts der hungrigen Konkurrenz Mut schöpfen können?
In Rumänien gibt es nämlich seit 1992 die sogenannte „The True Faith Jehovah's Witnesses Association“ – eine Splittergruppe der Organisation!
Deren geschätzte Mitgliederzahl in Rumänien: 35000 und wachsend.
Ich sehe da tatsächlich ein riesiges Potenzial!
Aber damit wir uns nicht allzu lange mit langweiliger Statistik beschäftigen, wird uns das Beispiel von Beatrice und Oana gezeigt.
Beatrice brachte das Kunststück fertig in der Grundschule im Alter von 12(!) Jahren ein Bibelstudium mit Oana einzurichten.

https://preview.redd.it/3pgkxdwt4ze51.jpg?width=1275&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=4e2dc341816d7eeadfbf5b53731e7214ea31b2e5
Und da Beatrice offensichtlich eine unterschwellige sexuelle Anziehung zu Oana verspürt (anders sind ihre Blicke nicht zu erklären), verläuft das Studium auch mit der nötigen Motivation ihrerseits und bringt Ertrag ein:
„[Oana] hat gute Fortschritte gemacht, ist zu den Zusammenkünften gekommen und hat sogar Kommentare gegeben“

https://preview.redd.it/tnkfu5355ze51.jpg?width=1215&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=8944d322c40bace9c4820b5bdeacd9106d7ae8cd
Keine Indoktrination ist wirkungsvoller, als die, die man sich selbst immer wieder vorsagt.
Allerdings ziehen dunkle Wolken am Horizont dieses jungen Glücks auf.
„Oanas Mutter fand es überhaupt nicht gut, dass ich mit ihrer Tochter die Bibel studiert habe“
und
„Sie hat ihr verboten weiter zu studieren. Sie hat ihr gesagt sie müsse sich entscheiden. Zwischen ihrer Familie und Jehova“
Genau, die Mutter hat GANZ bestimmt diese Worte gewählt.
„Eines Tages hat sie sie zuhause raus geworfen. Da war Oana 16 Jahre alt“
Tja, wenn ich an so manch gelesene Erfahrung im englischen Sub-Reddit denke, ergeht es vielen Kindern von "vorbildlichen" Zeugen Jehovas nicht anders. Sobald sich der Sprössling dann doch mal traut zu sagen, dass er nicht den gleichen Glauben teilt, kann das mal schnell zur Teenager-Obdachlosigkeit führen.
Aber Beatrice und Oana haben natürlich einen zuverlässigen Partner an ihrer Seite:
"Wir haben dann viel gebetet."
Und siehe da, es wirkt!
„Nur eine Woche später hat Jehova unsere Gebete beantwortet. Oanas Mutter hatte sich wieder beruhigt. Oana durfte nicht nur wieder nach Hause kommen, sondern die Zusammenkünfte besuchen und mit mir weiter studieren.“
Man könnte dieses "Wunder" natürlich auch Jehova zu schreiben, aber wäre es nicht ganz vielleicht auch möglich, dass hier schlicht und ergreifend die Mutterliebe über jegliche anderen Differenzen gesiegt hat?
Was für ein Gegensatz zu vielen Zeugen-Müttern, die sich nicht durch ihre Mutterinstinkte verunsichern lassen, wenn ein Kind die Organisation verlässt.
Wie dem auch sei: Oana ließ sich dann natürlich auch taufen.
Und Beatrice ist schier ekstatisch: „Ich kann gar nicht sagen, wie glücklich ich bin.“ Kann sie doch mit ihrem Schwarm sogar gemeinsam in den Predigtdienst gehen. Schön.
https://preview.redd.it/kms5rqo97ze51.jpg?width=1245&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=d29336d1d3b28d550ed1a9a823048c8cb276ac3b
Danach ist es Mark Noumair unglaublich wichtig, auf einen ganz bestimmten Punkt einzugehen: „Ist dir aufgefallen wann Beatrice angefangen hat mit Oana über die Bibel zu sprechen. In der Grundschule!
und
„Und auch ihr Kinder und Jugendlichen könnt erleben, wie viel Freude es macht die Schule zu eurem persönlichen Gebiet zu machen.“
Genau, im Worst-Case-Szenario grenzt ihr euch damit einfach noch ein bisschen mehr in der Schule aus und habt die Bestätigung, dass alle "Weltmenschen" böse sind...und im besten Fall gewinnt ihr sogar noch euren Klassenkameraden als Dienstpartner. Was könnte sich ein Kind mehr wünschen?
---
So, jetzt geht es Non-Stop nach "...Nordamerika"
Wieder ein paar Fakten:
Die USA stellen nur 4,2% der Weltbevölkerung, aber mit 1,2 Millionen Verkündiger gleichzeitig auch 13,8 % aller Zeugen Jehovas.
Was lernen wir daraus? Jehova liebt US-Amerikaner!
Aber widmen wir uns dem Beispiel der Versammlung "Juniata River Pennsylvania – Deutsch"
„Im folgenden Bericht bekommen wir einen kleinen Einblick in ihr wirklich einzigartiges Gebiet“
Und als ich mich schon fragte, was an diesem Gebiet so einzigartig sei, bekam ich auch gleich die Antwort:
"Viele Menschen dort haben wirklich großen Respekt vor der Bibel“ und „Man kann hier sehr oft aus der Bibel vorlesen. Das macht mir besonders viel Freude“
Woran das wohl liegen mag? Nun wenn ich mir die Bilder anschaue …

https://preview.redd.it/ugny3cts8ze51.jpg?width=640&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=4bf044768f706be63b4973e4bf43539bb2e81091
...und die Zusammenstellung der dortigen Bevölkerung...

https://preview.redd.it/7g2pbvnu8ze51.jpg?width=1396&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=a6123ab704fef5281fb037e2ecd015506fde5b98
...dann besteht sie zu großen Teilen aus Mennoniten und Amish.
Es ist natürlich äußerst praktisch einer Bevölkerungsgruppe zu predigen, die moderner Technik im allgemeinen, und dem Internet im speziellen, skeptisch bis komplett ablehnend gegenüber steht.
Deswegen kommen auch so Aussagen wie:
„Dieses Wachstum mitzuerleben ist wirklich begeisternd für uns alle“
und
„Seit ich in diesem Gebiet tätig bin, bin ich glücklicher als je zuvor“
Dann bekommen wir einige Brüder und Schwestern präsentiert, die ja sooooo glücklich sind, die "Wahrheit" kennengelernt zu haben:
„Je mehr ich studiert und in der Bibel nachgeforscht hab, umso mehr habe ich gemerkt, wie wenig ich eigentlich über die Bibel weiß. Das hat mich echt schockiert!“

https://preview.redd.it/uiw75xhoaze51.jpg?width=1219&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=bba42681388a9736209146a553e1a1c789ba3d0c
Das ging mir auch so, aber nicht als ich die "Wahrheit" kennengelernt habe, sondern die Wahrheit über die "Wahrheit".
„In der pennsylvanisch-deutschen Kultur wird viel Wert darauf gelegt den Eltern zu gefallen und Gott zu gehorchen“
Am deutschen Wesen soll die Welt genesen...oder so ähnlich.
„Das was ich über Zeugen Jehovas gehört hatte, stimmte einfach nicht mit dem überein, was ich selbst erlebt habe. Die Zeugen Jehovas haben mir alles in der Bibel gezeigt. Das musste einfach stimmen.“
Und dann bekommen wir noch eine Schwester zu sehen, die offensichtlich versucht ihren Wahnsinn hinter ein paar schönen Worten zu verbergen:

https://preview.redd.it/erkgzaj8bze51.jpg?width=1236&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=795e8953c88bb38e4cfbd4a86c6149522e716716
„Ich wünsche einfach jedem die selbe Hoffnung zu haben, wie wir!“
Gruselig.
---
Es ist Zeit für "...Ozeanien" und hier im Besonderen die Republik Fidschi.
Da möchte ich zuerst auf eine statistische Besonderheit aufmerksam machen, die ich mir so nicht ganz erklären kann.
Zuerst die Zahlen (zu finden auf jw.borg) des prozentualen Wachstums zum jeweiligen Vorjahr:
2016: - 3 %
2017: + 3 %
2018: + 1 %
2019: + 3 %
Klingt realistisch, aber mir fällt es irgendwie schwer, das mit den Verkündigerzahlen in einen Zusammenhang zu bringen:
2016: 3098
2017: 3278
2018: 3250
2019: 3151
Würde mich freuen, wenn mir da einer Nachhilfe in Mathe geben würde…offensichtlich besteht da bei mir Nachholbedarf.
Auch von dort erhalten wir den Bericht der örtlichen Brüder:
„In unserem Gebiet kennt fast jeder die Bibel, aber leider werden den Menschen falsche Lehren vermittelt“
Kenn ich leider nur allzu gut von meiner eigenen Religion...
„Den Menschen in der Bibel zu zeigen, dass Jehova ein Gott der Liebe ist. Das allein ist schon ein großer Segen.“
Uh, das stell ich mir vor allem als Herausforderung vor...
Dann kommen noch so motivierende Versicherungen wie:
„Wenn ich im Dienst bin, dann weiß ich, dass ich mit Jehova an einem Strang ziehe“
und
„Wenn wir im Dienst sind, sind wir glücklich“
Ganz besonders mitreißend ist dann auch noch eine Pionierschwester:
„Es gibt zwei Dinge die mich besonders glücklich machen: Zum einen ihre Freude zu sehen, wenn sie [Eine Schwester, die sie in die "Wahrheit" gebracht hat] im Dienst ist und zum anderen das Bewusstsein, dass …"

https://preview.redd.it/2v588p53fze51.jpg?width=805&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=9919d86f2d266bb1f2f1c04564c042489f762899
"... Jehova MICH gebraucht hat um Menschen zu helfen, die Wahrheit zu finden und ihm zu dienen“
Immer sympathisch, wenn jemand herauskehrt, wie besonders er doch sei.
---
Kommen wir zur letzten Station: "...Südamerika"
Und dort wenden wir uns einer bolivianischen Versammlung zu, die auf die Quechuasprachige Bevölkerung spezialisiert ist.

https://preview.redd.it/hpzybakrfze51.jpg?width=1668&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=e0ad202c8a19c0f96b33c94136e2e8cd31027c14
„Leider sind viele der Quechuasprachigen Bevölkerung Opfer von Diskriminierung geworden und haben keinerlei Schulbildung“

https://preview.redd.it/suzwbomtfze51.jpg?width=1487&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=694ebd78173b6b3b80d816e6a529771b43e123bb
Damit gehören sie eindeutig zum prädestinierten Kundenstamm der Organisation.
„Die Menschen in Bolivien reagieren positiv auf die gute Botschaft“
Tatsächlich, scheint es dort ein halbwegs stabiles Wachstum zu geben, aber mangelnde Bildung ist natürlich auch ein perfekter Nährboden für die Organisation.
Eine Schwester namens Edith berichtet dann von einem ihrer Studien: „Lydia war eine Frau, die sich für Gott interessierte. Aber natürlich hatte sie noch schlechte Gewohnheiten. So wie jeder der die Bibel noch nicht kennt“
Na? Was das wohl für eine „schlechte Gewohnheit“ war?

https://preview.redd.it/rsliao45gze51.jpg?width=1568&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=4d0aaf6e8a1eef404b160c15fd56216cd69aa48a
„Nach Feierabend war sie gerne mit ihren Kollegen zusammen“
Das gibt es ja nicht! Wie verkommen diese Welt doch inzwischen ist!
„Und manchmal, wenn sie mit Freunden unterwegs war, hat sie ein bisschen zu viel Alkohol getrunken.“
Deswegen besorgt sich ein reifer Christ seinen Alkohol stets alleine.

https://preview.redd.it/typ4o3a9gze51.jpg?width=596&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=95669fb1d9d0bf029a32732e518316cb18f468e6
Aber das Bibelstudium hat dann natürlich geholfen, Lydia auf den richtigen Weg und von ihren Freunden und Kollegen weg zu bringen.
„Einige Lehren waren für Lydia sofort klar, einige brauchten Zeit.“
Nach diesem Spruch erwartete ich schon die Erwähnung irgendwelcher Absurditäten des Offenbarungsbuchs, aber stattdessen kam:
„Zum Beispiel das Thema Kleidung. Sie hatte immer enge Sachen und sehr kurze Röcke an. Aber mit der Bibel konnten wir ihr Verstehen helfen, dass sich Frauen mit Bescheidenheit und guten Urteilsvermögen kleiden sollen“
Gott sei Dank gilt das mit der Bescheidenheit nicht für Brüder!

https://preview.redd.it/ybin1x8pgze51.jpg?width=2048&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=cdc39418203f3ce3c190795c9a317f6b0cef955a
„Es hat zwar gedauert, aber irgendwann hat sie es verstanden. Von da an kam sie immer so zu den Zusammenkünften, als wäre sie schon unsere Schwester“
Man beachte die Implikation daraus für diejenigen die schon Schwestern SIND.
Danach ist sie dann noch so begeistert vom weltweiten Werk und sich sicher, dass das der eindeutige Beweis für Jehovas Führung ist (wo bleibt eigentlich Jesus?).
„Wir arbeiten also nicht für einen Menschen, sondern für den Allerhöchsten!“
Ich bin irritiert: Wer von den acht Hanseln in Warwick ist dann jetzt der „Allerhöchste“?
Und damit beenden wir unsere Propagandatour um den Globus und Marc Noumair findet dann noch abschließende Worte: „Erfahrungen wie wir sie gerade gesehen haben, zeigen eindeutig, dass Jehova das Werk beschleunigt.“
Tatsächlich? Dann schauen wir uns doch zum Schluss das weltweite prozentuale Wachstum der letzten Jahre an:
2010: 2,5
2011: 2,4
2012: 1,9
2013: 2,1
2014: 2,2
2015: 1,5
2016: 1,8
2017: 1,4
2018: 1,4
2019: 1,3
Ich befürchte, dass Jehova das falsche Pedal erwischt hat…
Passend dazu noch ein Orwell-Zitat:
"Die Wirklichkeit spielt sich im Kopf ab. Sie glauben, die Wirklichkeit sei etwas äußerliches, Greifbares" [...] "aber ich sage Ihnen, die Wirklichkeit existiert im menschlichen Denken, nirgendwo anders. Nicht im Denken des einzelnen, der irren kann und schnell zugrunde geht, sondern im Denken der Partei, die allmächtig und unsterblich ist. Was immer die Partei für Wahrheit hält, ist wahr."- "1984"

Und damit sind wir auch schon am Ende des ersten Teils angekommen und ich kann euch dann hoffentlich möglichst bald erzählen, wie die Geschichte um Nisha und Lotte weitergeht.

Vielen Dank fürs Lesen!

Fortsetzung folgt...

---

Hier die Kongress-Zusammenfassungen:
Freitagvormittag
Freitagnachmittag
Samstagvormittag Teil 1
Samstagvormittag Teil 2
Samstagvormittag Teil 3
Samstagnachmittag Teil 1
Samstagnachmittag Teil 2
Samstagnachmittag Teil 3
Sonntagvormittag
submitted by Zakath87 to exzj [link] [comments]


2020.08.02 16:57 hunter15991 An Overview of Arizona Primary Races - Part 5: Legislative Districts 21-30

Welcome back to my omnibus compendium of Arizona’s upcoming primary races in the style of my 2018 summaries. The primary is set to take place August 4th – early voting ballots should have been mailed out on or around July 8th.
Arizona’s a really interesting state (I may be a hair biased), since it not only is home to 2-3 swing House seats and a high-profile Senate race, but also tenuous majorities in both state houses that could – theoretically – neuter Ducey’s trifecta this fall. And counties have their races this year as well, so I’ve highlighted some of the fireworks ongoing in Maricopa.
And this is before factoring in the fact that our state is a COVID-19 hotspot, with an unpopular Republican Governor doing almost nothing to stop it.
If you’re interested about which district you live in, check https://azredistricting.org/districtlocato. If you want to get involved with your local Democratic party, find your legislative district on the previous link (NOT CD), and then search for your LD’s name at this link. Feel free to attend meetings, they’re a great way to get involved with candidates and like-minded individuals.
If you wish to donate to a “clean elections” candidate (mentioned in the post as “clean”), you will have to live in that candidate’s legislative district to give qualifying $5 contributions (check here if anyone needs it in your area), but they are allowed to accept a limited amount of “seed money” from people outside of the district. The three CorpComm candidates can take $5’s statewide.
If you do not want to vote at the polls, you will need to request an early ballot using the website of your county’s recorder prior to July 4th. Example links for Maricopa, Pima, and Pinal. Others available if needed.
Race ratings for listed primaries will be listed as Safe/Likely/Leans/Tilt/Tossup (alternatively Solid instead of Safe if my mind blanks) and are not indicative of my own preference for that seat. I’ll denote my personal primary preferences at the end of this series, as well as the best Republican ticket for the Dems if someone here really really wants to pull a GOP ballot in the primary. I do not advise it, but since I can't stop ya, you'll get my best suggestions.
Write-in candidates have yet to file, which could give us an outside chance at getting some Libertarians on the ballot (the Greens have lost their ballot access).
If you have any questions about voting in the primary, which races are the most contested, and how to get involved with other Democrats in Arizona, feel free to PM me.
All fundraising numbers here are as of 7/15/2020 (“Q2”).
District stats are listed for the race that involved the top Democratic vote-getter in the past two midterm cycles plus the last two presidential races, taken from Daily Kos’s legislative sheet – Clinton’16, Obama’12, Sinema’18, and Garcia’14 (not his 2018 run).
Part 1: Statewide and Congressional Races
Part 2: Maricopa County Races
Update 1: Congressional and County Rating Updates
Part 3: Legislative Districts 1-10
Part 4: Legislative Districts 11-20
ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN SOLELY IN MY CAPACITY AS A VOTER IN ARIZONA, AND NOT REPRESENTATIVE OF ANY ORGANIZATIONS I WORK/ED FOR OR AM/WAS A MEMBER OF. THIS POST IS IN NO WAY ENDORSED BY THE ARIZONA DEMOCRATIC PARTY OR ANY SUB-ORGANIZATION THEREOF, OR ANY FILED CANDIDATE.
Alright, let’s get cracking, y’all. I’m going to try to save time and characters on the safer seats when I can, although of course I’ll expound on any fun stuff that comes up.
Legislative District 21 (McSally+4.09, Trump+15.18, Douglas+6.1, Romney+17.4)
The first district in this segment of the writeup is LD21, up in Northwestern Phoenix. Long a dark-red seat at the heart of Trent Franks’ fiefdom, LD21 has swung left in recent years along with other suburban districts (something people probably should have seen coming, judging by Douglas’s underperformance in 2014 relative to Trump and Romney despite her once being on the Peoria Unified School District’s Governing Board – hereafter PUSD - the school district encompassing ~70% of the district). It’s also a bit near and dear to my heart, since I went to elementary school in LD21. With PUSD functioning as a sort of political incubator on both sides in the district, my status as a student made me intimately aware of the names of lots of otherwise lower-level elected officials in the area.
This year Democrats are fielding former PUSD Board President Kathy Knecht ($87.1K COH) for one of the two House seats in LD21. There was a Democratic State Senate candidate initially running alongside Knecht (Bryan Whitman), but he dropped out of the race a couple months ago – Sen. Rick Gray ($81.8K COH) is now unopposed in his re-election.
Despite all that, Knecht still stands a good chance of flipping this seat, as she is a very solid candidate. In her first campaign in 2006 she became the first and so far only Democrat to beat now-Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R, AZ-CD8), and in her next two school board races won 1st place in the multi-seat election by sizable margins (9.7% in 2014 and 13.1% in 2010). She previously ran for SD21 in 2018 as an independent - outperforming most statewide Democrats (but falling slightly below Dr. Hiral Tipirneni’s performance in the district) – and has demonstrated an ability and openness to self-fund.
Needless to say, she’s a pretty damn good candidate.
Knecht and district Democrats also lucked out when GOP candidates for the seat were finalized. Incumbent Rep. Kevin Payne ($34.5K COH) is running for re-election, and outside of one controversy where he joked about shooting a campaign finance watchdog staffer in the head he hasn’t drawn much controversy in the state legislature, and is definitely going to be returning to it come 2021.
But Republican options to field directly against Knecht are more lacking. Randy Miller ($168.23 COH) - an active member of the Oathkeepers – almost won the nomination for this seat by default, which would have been an absolute godsend to Knecht’s chances. Unfortunately, PUSD Board Member Beverly Pingerelli ($5.2K COH, Clean) is also running in the primary – having filed just before the deadline - and would be the more pragmatic option for local Republicans given that she has held elected office in the past and is not an active member of an armed, far-right militia.
However, that does not at all mean that Pingerelli is herself a solid candidate. She’s running with clean elections funding - blocking her from direct coordination with either Payne or Gray – and although she is an elected official, it’s not much to write home about (1 school board term). In the primary, Pingerelli’s PUSD name-ID is countered by Randy Miller’s decent performance in the 2018 State Senate primary (~38.4% against then-former incumbent Rick Gray), and even though she’s raised more money than Miller she’s spent the majority of it, and can’t raise more until after the primary.
And Pingerelli doesn’t have history on her side in the general, either. You may recall she only won one term on the PUSD board before running for State House. That’d have been a promising result if in that election hadn’t Pingerelli placed 2nd – coming in 9.7% behind none other than Kathy Knecht.
Knecht came close against a less-controversial and better-funded candidate. I’m not comfortable prognosticating currently if she’ll get over the line this year, but hell if the ingredients aren’t there.
hunter15991 Rating: Dem. primary unopposed, Safe Payne, Lean Pingerelli, Unconsted GOP Sen. general, Tossup House (Pingerelli/Knecht), Safe Payne general
Legislative District 22 (McSally+19.9, Trump+28.41, Douglas+17.56, Romney+31.94)
Nestled next to LD20 and LD21, LD22 is the reddest of the three districts nestled in northwest Phoenix. Incumbent Sen. David Livingston ($61.1K COH), Rep. Ben Toma ($58.3K COH) and Rep. Frank Carroll ($9.5K COH) are running for re-election and face little resistance across the board. Toma and Carroll are opposed only in the general, by local activists Mary Honne ($11K COH, Clean) and Wendy Garcia ($61 COH, Clean). Livingston faces veteran Sarah Tyree ($2.9K COH) in the general, and primary challenges from former chief of police Van DiCarlo ($352 COH) and nonprofit employee Hop Nguyen ($898 COH). DiCarlo may hypothetically have the career background to make some noise in the Senate primary, but with his abysmal fundraising I doubt we see that shine through.
hunter15991 Rating: Dem. primary unopposed, Safe Livingston, GOP House Primary unconstested, Safe GOP general
Legislative District 23 (McSally+9.69, Trump+13.33, Douglas+9.36, Romney+26.94)
The LD23 Republicans are a particularly wild brand of crazy, and in my unbiased opinion have the craziest slate of candidates among any districts in Arizona. While individual people like Kelly Townsend possibly burn brighter, LD23's candidates take the cake.
On the Senate side, we have incumbent Michelle Ugenti-Rita ($30.2K COH), a "conservative feminist" (in that she gives lip service to the ERA every so often before voting against it) who has the unlikely distinction of being the accused party in one capitol sexual harassment case, and the victim in the other, and who was recently in the news for pushing a bill that'd legalize deadly force to stop property damage. Her Senate opponent, Alex Kolodin ($53.7K COH, $123K self-funded), insists she stole it from him.
The real fun starts on the House side. Incumbents John Kavanagh and Jay Lawrence ($12.5K COH) are running for re-election, Kavanagh an ex-Port Authority cop, Lawrence a former radio show host. Their partial rap-sheets are as follows:
Kavanagh:
Lawrence:
And then there's their primary opponent, investment banker Joseph Chaplik ($8.1K COH), who went from frat douche in college to exploiting the housing crisis in Arizona to scoop up assets during a market downturn. For further Chaplik deets I present to you the 6/29 Republican Briefs where he tries to defend against attacks levied by Kavanagh and Lawrence, and Kavanagh's rebuttal on 7/1, as well as other RB search results for "Chaplik". I can't highlight the exact section, so ctrl+F for "Chaplik" on both pages, as well as for "Ugenti" on the 7/1 link.
As it stands, I think the Ugenti-Rita/Kavanagh/Lawrence slate holds strong. Ugenti-Rita’s reputation in the district is still quite reputable (at least among primary voters), and Chaplik’s made enough enemies during his campaign that I think he barely fails at knocking Lawrence off – although he’s a stronger primary candidate than Kolodin.
The two Democrats in the race are Eric Kurland ($71.1K COH) on the House side, and Seth Blattman ($29.9K COH) on the Senate side. While I don’t think Blattman has the funds or name recognition to seal the deal in his race, I think he’s running a competent enough campaign to help Kurland over the line. Kurland lost in 2018 by only 3% while only taking public funds (and with a far weaker Senate candidate), and with the miles-long rap sheets for Lawrence, Kavanagh, and Chaplik there’s a decent chance he snags one of the two seats.
hunter15991 Rating: Dem. primary unopposed, Likely Ugenti-Rita, Safe Kavanagh, Tilt Lawrence, Likely Ugenti-Rita general, Safe Kavanagh, Tossup 2nd House Seat (Lawrence/Kurland)
Legislative District 24 (Sinema+46.84, Clinton+38.25, Garcia+39.24, Obama+28.82)
The site of a brutal 7-way House primary in 2018, LD24 is now the site of a contentious State Senate race – Reps. Jennifer Longdon ($23.3K COH) and Amish Shah ($24.3K COH, $10K self-funded) will only face perennial candidate David Alger ($1.1K COH) in the general. But Senator Lela Alston ($71K COH) faces veteran Ryan Starzyk ($492 COH, Clean) in the upcoming primary. Putting it in the nicest terms possible: Starzyk has been an absolute firecracker in this race, getting in the face of anyone of political importance in LD24 or even in nearby districts. Just last Friday, Starzyk filed a restraining order against someone whom he had gotten into a Facebook internet argument with – including a yearlong no-contact provision between the two.
Starzyk has burnt practically every bridge in the district, and has failed in his attempts to paint Alston as a nebulous “corporate Democrat” because of her ludicrously high scores from local progressive groups (including 96 from ProgressNowAZ, the highest score in Maricopa County) over her past voting record. With only ~$500 on hand, and most generic primary-from-left groups against him, Starzyk is resorting to desperate measures online in an attempt to maintain relevance in this race.
It’s not going to work.
hunter15991 Rating: GOP primary unopposed, Dem. House unopposed, Safe Alston, Safe Dem. general
Legislative District 25 (McSally+16.16, Trump+26.24, Douglas+16.46, Romney+31.93)
LD25, the Mormon capital of the state, is a red no man’s land for Democrats. However - like angelfish in the ocean deep - in the dark-red depths of the district one can still observe fascinating dynamics in the GOP House primary, which is shaping up to be somewhat competitive this year. House Speaker Rusty Bowers ($123.2K COH) – an old, bald re-incarnation of a mid-19th century Mormon theocrat is being challenged for House leadership from the right (or at least, a different type of far right) by active Oathkeeper Mark Finchem (HD11). While it’s theorized that the candidacy of Kathy Pearce ($1.3K COH) – wife of SB1070 “show me your papers” author Russell Pearce – is partially being indirectly backed by the Finchem bloc of state legislators as something of a retributory move against Bowers, the Pearce candidacy is actually primarily a Bowers-supported move. Rep. Michelle Udall ($37.6K COH), Bowers’s seatmate, often faces criticism that nowadays she’s acting a bit too much like Mark and Mo Udall (Michelle says she married into the name), and the Pearce candidacy is primarily to try to bounce her.
Despite the financial disparity, I think this race will be quite tight – current day LD25 has most of the same boundaries as LD18 in the 2002-2012 era that was represented for several years by Russell Pearce. While Udall herself has a decent name in the district and a respectable warchest, that Pearce name ID is going to be a tough hurdle. I still think Udall takes it, but by narrow margins.
There are technically are Democratic candidates in this district - Paul Weigel ($1.7K COH) for Senate (against GOP incumbent Tyler Pace (11.8K COH)) and Suzanne Hug ($15.7K COH) for House, but it will take a miracle for them to win in November. Maybe mass Mormon turnout defections? Hell knows.
hunter15991 Rating: Dem. primary unopposed, Pace unopposed, Solid Bowers, Tilt Udall, all Solid GOP general
Legislative District 26 (Sinema+38.06, Clinton+27.51, Garcia+25.24, Obama+19.8)
Going to try to be brief here to not doxx myself as well, but unfortunately I can’t brush past this district entirely because there are competitive primaries for both House and Senate. Of course.
On the Senate end, incumbent Sen. Juan Mendez ($9.2K COH, Clean) faces a primary from the center by former County Health Board candidate Jana Lynn Granillo ($5.6K COH), who has received a significant chunk of change by an odd coalition of corporate and union PACs in this primary. Explanatory articles are behind paywalls, but the corporate opposition is over policy, while the union opposition is more personal, over a past squabble a key union kingmaker had with various progressive Democratic incumbents (in this squabble I tend to end up on the side of the spurned incumbents)
On the House side, House Minority Whip and Mendez’s wife Athena Salman ($9.4K COH) is running alongside EMT Melody Hernandez ($8.5K COH, Clean) on the same ticket as Mendez. Salman endorsement is an incredibly strong pull for Hernandez, as is her connections to the healthcare world during a global pandemic. Their chief opposition this year is Debbie Nez-Manuel ($27.3K COH), who has gotten $217.2K in outside spending from the same odd coalition backing Granillo. It’s an absolute titanic amount, and if Hernandez survives it will be a very good sign for Salman’s political prowess. While I would give Nez-Manuel the edge – especially given that she came within a few percent of beating Mendez in 2018 – Hernandez is not out of this yet. Tempe Elementary School Board Member Patrick Morales ($3.5K COH) is also running in the primary, but is set to go nowhere in a hurry – and thankfully so, as he’s definitely got skeletons in his closet.
Republicans are somehow fielding a full slate of candidates in this district this year - Jae Man Chin ($605 COH – Q2 report not filed) for Senate, and Bill Loughrie ($14.5K COH) and Seth Sifuentes ($1.4K COH, Clean) for House. They’re all toast in November.
hunter15991 Rating: GOP primary unopposed, Lean Mendez, Safe Salman, Tilt Nez-Manuel, Safe Dem. general
Legislative District 27 (Sinema+56.34, Clinton+53.45, Garcia+51.54, Obama+51.95)
LD27 is one of the bluest districts in the state, and shouldn’t be the focal point for Democratic cash in a normal election year. However, this is Arizona, and absolutely nothing about our elections is normal. In LD27’s case, it’s the home base of a certain Catherine Miranda ($3.6K COH), a former Democratic State Senator who was notorious for getting conservative support and trying to carry water for state Republicans. One very prominent example of Miranda’s antics were her two endorsements in 2014: Governor Doug Ducey (R) and former Secretary of State Michelle Reagan (R). Her progressive claims to fame this year are therefore rather ludicrous, in my opinion.
Miranda is running for her old seat against two Democratic incumbents, Rep. Diego Rodriguez ($22.7K COH) and Reggie Bolding ($39.2K COH). Both are rather solid candidates in well-liked in their district. They’ll get financial and political assistance from Sen. Rebecca Rios ($39.6K COH), who does not have Miranda-backed primary opposition this year.
While Miranda is getting noticeable amounts of support from outside PACs, Rios and Bolding are both big figures in this district, and while Rodriguez has a few campaigning flaws they’re far too minor for Miranda and her people to exploit. I think he’ll survive this primary, and then that the Democratic slate will easily beat GOP Senatorial candidate Garland Shreves ($10.1K COH) and House candidate Tatiana Pena ($9.8K COH, Clean).
hunter15991 Rating: GOP primary unopposed, Rios unopposed, Safe Bolding, Lean Rodriguez, All Safe Dem. general
Legislative District 28 (Sinema+12.4, Clinton+5.3, Garcia+10.68, Romney+8.97)
LD28, centered in rich, suburban Paradise Valley and the Arcadia neighborhood of Phoenix, is the keystone of any Democratic plans to retake the state legislature in 2020. While the two state House seats are held by Democrats - dentist/businesswoman Kelli Butler ($116.7K COH) and early childhood education specialist Aaron Lieberman ($159K COH), the Senate seat is held by Kate Brophy McGee ($311.1K COH), a faux-moderate legislator who tries to ham up her bipartisan credentials to hold on in a rapidly bluening suburban seat. In a way, McGee is the Susan Collins of Arizona.
If McGee is the Susan Collins of Arizona, Christine Porter Marsh ($209.5K COH) is the closest person there is to Sara Gideon. The 2016 Arizona Teacher of the Year (and thus a good friend of national Teacher of the Year in 2016 Rep .Jahanna Hayes), Marsh is an absolutely stellar recruit for this seat. In 2018 she lost by only 267 votes, and the situation in the district has only improved for Democrats since then. The partisan participation rate in the primary (in LD28) is several more points in Democrats’ favor than it was in 2018, their slate’s fundraising is on fire ($485.2K COH combined), and the Republican situation is even more of a dumpsterfire than in 2018.
For you see, while Kate Brophy McGee has been carefully tailoring her moderate image, she has lost many friends in this district due to Democratic downballot flips. Because of this, instead of two carefully-picked House runningmates that she would desperately want in a race as competitive as this one (like Lieberman and Butler on the Democratic side), McGee is instead stuck with Jana Jackson ($2.4K COH, Clean) - someone who formerly had a warrant out for her arrest in regards to check fraud charges in Indiana – and Kenneth Bowers ($3.80 COH), a far right lunatic whose top policy priority is building a statue of former Gov. Evan Meacham, a sort of proto-Trump for our state. Bowers hates Jackson, Jackson hates Bowers, and both hate McGee. And because Jackson is taking public financing, she can’t even coordinate as directly with McGee and Bowers as before.
So in the battle to hold this seat against rising Democratic tides, McGee clearly sits on top of a gigantic pile of money in order to defend her seat. But unlike past years she now sits alone – with two ludicrously bad dumpsterfires of candidates as her House runningmates instead of capable partners like Kathy Petsas or Maria Syms (who would have been better runningmates for McGee’s chances, even though Syms and Petsas openly fought one another in 2018).
Local Republicans absolutely blew it in candidate recruitment this year in this district, and it is going to show. I think that the ingredients are here to get Marsh into office, and send McGee off into a nice and comfortable retirement.
hunter15991 Rating: Primaries unopposed, Tilt Marsh, Solid Lieberman, Solid Butler
Legislative District 29 (Sinema+41.17, Clinton+35.71, Garcia+27.96, Obama+31.12)
In LD29 there is a semblance of a competitive primary on the House side, as realtor Teddy Castro ($10.8K COH) is trying to leverage the same coalition backing Granillo and Nez-Manuel in LD26 to try to beat either moderate Rep. Cesar Chavez ($17.5K COH), or union activist (the target of the unions’ ire, oddly) Rep. Richard Andrade ($21.6K COH). As it stands I think Andrade’s strong, personal connections with local unions will override any pushes by leadership to try to throw him under the bus.
On the GOP side there is also nominally a primary, between Helen Fokszanskyj-Conti ($15.3K COH, Clean), Alyssa McMillan ($10 COH), and Billy Bragg Jr. ($17K COH). Between the three, I think McMillan is the least likely to win a ticket to November, by virtue of her atrocious fundraising.
Sen. Martin Quezada ($15.2K COH) will face token opposition in the general election from John Wilson ($26 COH).
hunter15991 Rating: Wilson unopposed, Safe Fokszanskyj-Conti, Safe Bragg Jr., Quezada unopposed in primary, Safe Chavez, Likely Andrade, All Safe Dem. general
Legislative District 30 (Sinema+38.52, Clinton+30.47, Garcia+26.2, Obama+24.65)
Sen. Otoniel Navarrete ($9.5K COH), Rep. Raquel Teran ($18.4K COH), and Rep. Robert Meza ($6.4K COH) are all unopposed in their run for re-election in both the Democratic primary and general election, pending GOP write-in success. Won’t even bother linking to ‘em since I've already written so much, congrats on winning new terms.
hunter15991 rating: Dems unopposed in primary and general
Final Primary Updates:
Since I've sat for so long on writeups for Districts 11-30, my views on other seats have ended up changing, and races I had been undecided on need to be decided. To make sure I have predictions down for each race (some are still at Tossup):
CD9 House - GOP Primary: Lean Giles
LD1 House - GOP Primary: Leans Bliss, Tilt Burges
LD16 House - GOP Primary: Lean Fillmore, Tilt Parker
Going to try to get another writeup out on Phoenix Council candidates out relatively soon, as well as a post-primary update for all the races mentioned here and in past writeups.
submitted by hunter15991 to VoteDEM [link] [comments]


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https://preview.redd.it/cpnncg3a2uc51.jpg?width=295&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=7993369e761192e0aa5ae6791778521d9afbd102
submitted by wolf24Jul to u/wolf24Jul [link] [comments]


2020.07.18 04:36 Erutious Bright Farm

"And so, we commit Malcolm Tyler to the earth. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust."
The dirt hit the top of the child-sized coffin as it slid into its final resting place.
John just sat there, surrounded by family and friends and yet utterly alone. Malcolm had been ten, on the cusp of the age of reason, and as John looked at the picture of him, that sat amongst the flowers, he could swear it was one of his baby pictures. Malcolm had loved baseball, superheroes, Star Wars, and old video games. He had clung to his father's passions, and the two had always been close. As he watched the coffin slip into the earth, John felt the tears slide down his face. They were naked and unashamed.
The seat next to him was empty too. His wife, Claire, was still in the hospital after the accident that had taken their son. The doctors had told him that she would likely recover but that she might never walk again. They had told him this as though it were a spectacular consolation prize. "Your son will never play in the majors or even see the Star Wars movie he was so looking forward to, but you can rest assured that your now cripple wife will be home as soon as we're done milking your insurance for all its worth."
He sat there and accepted the pats, the condolences, the meaningless words that fell on him like daggers.
His son was gone, and these people were telling him how sorry they were for his loss.
They didn't know loss. They were going to climb into their vehicles, with mostly complete partners, and go back to their homes so they could hug their own children and be glad it hadn't been them who'd lost someone important. They would put the funeral announcement in a drawer by the door where they kept their keys or their change, and one day they would drag it out by mistake and think how sad it had been that such a youngster had died in the prime of his life. Then they would throw it away or put it back in the drawer if they were sentimental and probably never think about it again.
He seethed over these thoughts as he sat in the hard plastic chair which had been provided by Copeland Funeral Home.
He seethed over these people and their routine, unbroken lives until he was the only one there.
Then John got up and went home.
John sat and watched TV, eating his tv dinner without much enthusiasm. The turkey was lumpy and had only cooked in the middle. The mashed potatoes were still half-frozen, and the gravy was like liquid lava. On TV, the news anchor was talking about the Green Man murders. The latest victim, Shelly Rhodes, had been discovered in an alley. The police were looking for anyone who might have seen the perpetrators. John watched, apathetically, as he spooned the mush into his mouth. A commercial came on for Anders Tires, and he tuned it out.
Malcolm had been dead for three days, and John had done little but wallow in his misery.
The house was like a monument to better times.
He had stood in the entryway most of the afternoon after the funeral, staring at a photo of him and Malcolm at the beach. Claire had taken it after they built that sandcastle they were both hunkered over. They had been at the shore for a week, Malcolm as brown as a nut after spending six days on the beach. The castle had begun as a lopsided thing before John had gotten involved. The plastic molds Malcolm had bought at the beachside stand were shoddy things, and John had known a thing or two about sandcastle building. Together they had constructed an elegant castle, complete with drawbridge and moat. The turrets had grown out of the sand, and the flags had been leaves plucked from a nearby tree.
Claire had been laughing as she snapped the photo, and the two of them had been grinning like fools over their accomplishment.
John felt tears fall from his eyes, saw them tumble into the unappetizing mashed potatoes, and spooned them into his mouth anyway.
Malcolm's room was the worst part of the house.
The room stood at the very top of the staircase, easily viewable from the downstairs landing. John had stood in the dark last night and just looked at the doorway from the bottom step. The nightlight cast the scene in a strange Shadowverse. He could vaguely see the baseball players trapped in their glory as they hung glossing from the walls with push pins. He could see the bookshelf where John had taken the night's bedtime story. He could see the balsa wood glider where it hung from the ceiling, the broken wing mocking him. How many times had John promised to fix it? How many times had he told Malcolm that he would go buy a tube of airplane glue? How many times had he gone to the store and not done it?
He had thought he had time.
He had thought he could do it some other when.
He had been wrong.
He had slept in his recliner every night after that.
The phone rang, dragging him from his misery. The picture on the screen was that of his wife, smiling like she was the happiest woman in the world, as Malcolm grinned from her hugging arms. John felt a sob creep up his throat. He would have to change that. He answered it on the sixth ring, saying hello without much enthusiasm.
"Hi, John." His wife sounded tired. She sounded like maybe she had been crying too. She sounded like John felt; ready to just give up and join their son in his eternal rest.
John found he didn't have much of a feeling about that.
"Hi, Claire."
"You didn't come to see me today."
He didn't have an answer to that, so he said nothing.
"Are you okay, John? I'm worried about you."
John thought about the question. He was not, he decided, okay, but if he told his wife that then she would worry. He hadn't come to see her today for that reason. Not for the reason he suspected that she suspected that he blamed her for their son's death. He no more blamed Claire than he blamed the car she had totaled when a semi-truck, driven by a man who was asleep at the wheel, had crushed the car against the guard rail. He didn't blame her for that; it was an event outside of her control.
He hadn't come to see her, because she would look at him and know that something was deeply wrong with him. She would see the dark circles, the pallid skin, the dirty face cleaned only by the tears that seem to run tirelessly, and she would worry. He didn't care about any of that, not really, but if she told a doctor about these things, then John might spend the next few months as a drooling zombie while they pumped him full of dope.
John did not want to dope his pain away.
He wanted to wallow in it like a pig in filth.
"John? Are you...are you mad at me?" He could hear the tears on the verge of bursting.
"No, Kay, I'm just tired." He said, using her pet name, "I haven't slept well since," his own tears slid out now, pale tracts of moisture that always seemed on the verge of falling, "since the funeral."
"I wanted to be there for you and for him, but…"
"I know." He lied.
He knew very little that he was confident of.
"I just wanted to make sure you were okay, John. I wish I were there to help you through this. I wish you were here to help me through this."
She was crying now, he could almost hear her tears as they slid against the phone.
He stared at the tv like a husk, incapable of feeling empathy for his sobbing wife.
"I know, but someone has to pay the bills; now more than ever."
That was a crock, said a voice in his brain. John had no more been to work than he'd been upstairs. Mr. Beatle had given him bereavement, and he had taken it without a fight. He had done little but sit morosely and fulfill his body's needs when they clawed against his consciousness. Feed the machine, empty the tank, sleep, rinse, repeat.
It was all very tedious.
"You sound tired, I'll let you get to sleep. Will I see you tomorrow?"
"Yeah," he said, lying again, "I'll swing by after work and see how you're doing."
"I'd like that. I miss you, John, I love you."
"I love you too, Kay."
The lies came easily.
He hung up the phone and continued to wallow.
"Are you unhappy?" Asked the man on the tv. He was a tall fellow, sleek black hair, and a thin mustache that looked oily. He was wearing a butcher apron over a white shirt and smiling into the camera like he could see through John's tv screen. It was a little unsettling.
John kept watching, figuring the commercial would be over soon.
"Feeling empty? Perhaps seeking something you've lost?"
John shoveled more food into his mouth but felt his eyes locked on this greasy salesman.
"Here at Bright Farm, we pride ourselves on helping those who are lost come back into the light. Whatever your seeking, you can be sure that we have it here at Bright Farms. Our councilors are here 24/7 to,"
John lifted the remote, a job that seemed harder than it should have, and flipped over to the next channel.
"make sure the light does not escape you in your time of need."
What the hell?
It was the same commercial.
He clicked over again.
"Maybe you've recently had a crisis of faith? Suffered an event that's made you question the existence of a wide and shining God. Maybe you've lost your way, no longer feel that life is worth living,"
John has changed the channel seven times while the man was taking but found him on every channel. For some reason, the man-made him uncomfortable, and he wanted to see anything on the tube at this point. A baseball game, an old movie, a stupid sitcom, anything but this man and his smiling face. As he watched, the smile seemed to stretch under that mustache, and as he clicked the button to turn the set off, he realized that the man's eyes were fixed directly on him. The man was staring at him through the tv, and the veins in his eyes seem to pulsate as he watched.
"maybe you've even lost someone you loved. A mother, a brother,"
The eyes got very intense, and no matter how many times he hit the off button, the tv stayed on.
"A son?"
He was staring right at him now and clearly only at him.
"He's here, John. He's here, and all you have to do is come to him. What are you waiting for, John? Why are you just sitting there, John? He misses you, JOHN!" The man was screaming from the tv, and John was aware of his dinner leaking into the sweat pants he was wearing. He had upset the little plastic tray, but it hardly seemed to matter. The man on the tv was beating his fists against the glass front and yelling at John, questioning him, asking why he didn't come to his son if he missed him so damn much?
John screamed, and as he did, he came awake all at once.
The screen was snow, and he had indeed spilled his dinner.
He turned off the television, cleaned up his chair, and thought longingly about going up to bed.
It only took him a few minutes at the bottom of the stairs to return to his recliner.
He slept fitfully.
He woke up early the next morning, bright and early. This was something he seemed unable to shake from his old life. His job had expected him to arrive at eight AM every day, and his brain seemed hardwired to wake up at six am every morning. He thought about going to work, maybe a day at the office would set him right. He could sit in his office and go over accounts and feel like his usual self. He could pretend that, when the five o'clock bell rang, he could go home to his lovely wife and best buddy in their two bed, two bath home, and when he got off and drove home, he would find it just that way.
He only stood at the foot of the stairs for twenty minutes, seeing the pennants on the wall and watching the broken plane hanging suspended from the ceiling before he turned away and went to the kitchen instead.
There would be no normal life for him.
Never again.
The round cereal clinked into the bowl cheerily. The box declared that it was Space Acers, and it had been one of Malcolm's favorites. The marshmallows stood out amongst the grain circles. They were the kind of neon color that only a kid could love, the lumpy multicolor of poor craftsmanship, and lack of real care. He saw a tear fall into them as he studied them. He remembered how Malcolm had sung the jingle every time he ate them. He remembered how Malcolm could name all seven different marshmallow shapes, remembering when he'd gotten so excited over that Captain Acer decoder ring he'd found in a box last year.
He saw another tear fall into the cereal and turned to get the milk. He opened the door and scanned the pristine white glow of the refrigerator for the carton. He was momentarily worried that they were out, but suddenly, the Happy Cow's face came into view. When he picked it up, he got a nasty shock as he realized that Bright Farms Diary was printed over the head of the smiling cow. Had they always provided their milk? He was sure it had been a different company last week. He turned the carton, reading the description on the side, feeling a kind of surreal haze role over him.
It told how Bright Dairy cows were the happiest cows in the world.
It told how Bright Dairy was the leading provider of Dairy for his area.
Then he turned the carton and felt it slip out of his numb fingers. As it fell, he could clearly see the Missing Child picture on the side of the carton. The black and white photo made it hard to make out his exact features, but John would know the boy's sandy brown hair and green eyes, even in black and white. He was smiling, as he had been in the beach picture, and under the picture was the legend "Found Child: Answers to Malcolm. Misses his father. Wants to know why his father hasn't come to get him. Wants to know why his father doesn't love him."
The milk puddled on the ground as his son's face stared up at him from the floor.
He felt his tear patter into the pool as he looked down at the spilled milk.
"What do you mean you're out of milk?"
John had been to three different stores, and each of them had been out of milk. The first two had little signs taped up on their milk coolers, saying how sorry they were that they were out of milk. There had been no one to yell at there, but at the third store, he had found someone to yell at. The man in the plastic apron bore it well, clearly not his first irate customer today, and flashed his pasted on grin in the face of John's ire.
"Sorry, sir, but the company had a little trouble with their truck today. You could try another store, I suppose, but I'm guessing they're all in the same boat."
Smug prick, John thought.
He knew they were all in the same boat.
"You could always go down to Bright Farms and get the milk yourself." The man added, taking a step away as though trying to distance himself from the conversation.
John watched him go, breathing out disgustedly as he went back to the parking lot to find his car.
He guessed he was going to Bright Farms.
Bright Farms looked almost idyllic.
John had driven for almost an hour, making his way out of the hustle and bustle of the city and into the more rural areas that surrounded it. Here was the farm belt, the farms with acres of land all planted with vegetables in neat rows or with livestock happily munching grass in the fields. John saw big red barns and farmhouses with long porches, people moving about between them as they went about their daily lives. The road ran on and on, and when his GPS said he had arrived, he almost didn't believe it. The farm had seemed like such a strange place in the infomercial. Some kind of farm akin to a backwoods gospel tent where miracles happened, or at least they claimed they did.
This place looked like the place in the Hidden Valley commercials.
The road turned left onto a hard-packed dirt track. John could see fields ripe with produce, an orchard in the distance with happy pickers at work, a long pair of barns for cows or sheep maybe, and several tall wooden houses that looked almost Amish. The sign over the road read "Bright Farms" in cheery white letters. The place seemed downright peaceful, downright wholesome.
John turned his car down the road and drove towards the cluster of buildings.
There were eight two-story houses built of dark brown wood. Heavy windows looked down from the buildings, and to anyone on the ground, they looked like disapproving eyes. Among them, as though surrounded, was a squat little building with a long porch complete with rockers. A sign hung across the roof declared it to be the General Store. John thought it was as good a place as any to find some information, so he mounted the steps and went inside.
A bell tinkled overhead merrily.
The inside was a packed but orderly arrangement of everything one might need for frontier life at the turn of the century. There were long shelves stacked with sacks of beans and corn, flour and sugar, bolts of cloth and spools of thread, and an overwhelming smell of brine that led him to a huge pickle jar near the front of the store. Behind a long counter, stood a man in a butchers apron, his dark hair and small mustache looking eerily familiar, wearing the biggest smile John had ever seen. He stared intently at John, and the attention made his skin crawl.
"Morning stranger, are you here for the milk?"
"I guess," John said.
The man cocked his smiling head, "Pardon me for saying so, sir, but you don't really seem sure."
"I...I seem to be drawn here for some reason lately. I see your commercials and your products, and they seem to be calling me here."
The man cocked his head to the side and then snapped his fingers loudly, "I thought you looked familiar, your John, right?"
John jumped a little, "How do you know my name?"
"Oh, we've been waiting for you. We've been keeping something very special for you, it's in the barn. Come on."
The shopkeeper went off into the room behind the counter, beckoning as he left. John felt drawn to follow him, but as he stepped, he contemplated. Was he really going to just follow this stranger into the back of his store? These people clearly wanted him here for some reason. Why give them what they wanted? Unless...unless they might actually have…
"Coming?" called a voice from the back.
John was around the counter before he could stop himself.
He followed him into the back of the store, a shadowy mountain of creaking shelves, but the man in the apron was already standing by an open back door. He led him out into the bright dooryard and pointed to the long cow shed he had seen before. If he had thought that it looked too big from the road, now it seemed to stretch off towards the field for too long. It wasn't just the length either, the shed looked odd somehow. It looked like the kind of place that held secrets best left unfound, like a freakshow tent or the back room of a snake handlers' revival. John hesitated as the man took a step toward the shed, not wanting to know what lay inside.
The man looked back, cheerily, "Don't you want to see what we have for you? He's been waiting for so long."
"Who?" John asked, but the man was already walking towards the shed, and John had to step quickly to catch up.
The shed door creaked open ominously as the shopkeeper slid it to the side. He reached inside and fumbled against the wall until a loud snap signaled the lights to life. They clicked on rapidly, lighting overhead fluorescents snapping on in a quick pattern that lit the small wooden berths in the long cow shed. As they stepped inside, the man walked briskly, and John tried to follow as his curious eyes also tried to take in what lay inside each of the berths. Most were people, confused and naked as they sat in the straw, but some were full of objects or money or precious items. The worst were the shadowy stalls that held things with red eyes and furtive breaths. The huddled in the darkness and looked at him as he went past. Their eyes held no recognizable emotion except hate.
After a minute of quick walking, they came to a stop.
The man extended his hand towards a closed stall.
"This is it. Hurry up, he's waiting for you."
John was a few steps behind him, the berth next to this one holding a smashed in Mercedes. When he heard the man speak, his voice echoing in this strangely quiet place, John shivered a little. He didn't want to disturb the things here, many of which were rather disturbing on their own. John didn't want to know what might happen if they suddenly decided to leave their stalls and come out where they could get at him.
As he came up to the gate of his berth, he could see a small, naked boy of about ten who was sitting on the floor with his knees hugged up to his chest. A head of sandy blond hair was visible between those knees, and John felt his breath stick in his chest. The hair was soft, baby fine, and looked thick and recently washed. It piled artlessly on top of the small head, just as Malcomn's always had, and John felt the tears slide down his face as he remembered how it had poked out underneath his baseball cap when he pulled it down to get it out of his face.
Then the boy looked up with those too green eyes, and John saw Malcolm smile at him from the straw strewn floor.
"Daddy?"
The boy asked it as though he didn't dare quite believe it.
It was too much.
John felt his knees unhinge, and suddenly he was falling into darkness as the naked boy rose from the floor and came to peek at him through the stall door.
The last thing he saw before blacking out was those too green eyes as they bore into him.
He came awake with those eyes staring at him.
Someone had put him in a bed. The sheets were soft and the pillowy luxurious, but the blanket was like sandpaper as it lay atop him. The boy perched on his chest was digging it into him painfully, and as he woke up, the boy smiled and crawled to snuggle with him under the blanket. He wrapped his small arms around him and seemed to notice the uncomfortable fabric not at all. John felt the comfortable press of his sons as he lay beside him. How many days had he woken up just this way? Malcolm pressed between him and his wife as they slept together, his warmth comfortable against John's back as he wormed in between them. John wrapped his own arms around him and breathed in the scent of fabric softener, the off-brand shampoo his wife bought for them, and warm grass that always seemed to hang around Malcolm.
John opened his eyes.
He expected to wake up in his own bed, the dream evaporating around him, but Malcolm was still there.
The door opened then. The man from behind the counter walked in, his hard boots knocking on the wooden floor, and he smiled his too-wide smile at John.
"You're awake," he stated.
John sat up and put a protective arm around his son. The boy was dressed in a pair of overalls, a blue shirt beneath, and John saw that he was still wearing the clothes he had arrived in. The room was spartan, a bed and an end table being its only elements, and as the smiling man towered over them, John began to feel self-conscious. He slid out of bed, Malcolm still clinging to him, and faced the man.
"How is it that you came to have my son?"
The man shrugged, "The Farm knows what people want, it knows what people need. One day I was sweeping up, and there he was, just sittin there. He looked up with those big green eyes and asked where his daddy was, and I just knew that sooner or later you'd come looking."
John ruffled Malcomn's hair, "I'm glad I did. It seemed like everything lately was trying to bring me here."
"Are you hungry?" the smiling man asked suddenly, "Margarette, my wife, just about has lunch ready, and she'd be tickled pink if you'd join us."
John looked down into Malcomn's deep green eyes and smiled, "Sure, why not?"
They spent the rest of the day together. After lunch, Thomas took them down to feed day-old bread to the ducks in his little pond. Thomas, the smiling man, had finally introduced himself, and as he and his wife, a smiling plump woman of middle age, had fed them from their table, John couldn't take his eyes off Malcolm. The boy dug into the meal just as his boy always had like it might be the last he'd ever have, and when Margarette offered them each a piece of the pie, the boy's eyes lit up with excitement. How many birthdays had John seen that same expression cross his face as the cake came out? Malcolm caught John staring and smiled shyly at him as Margarette added a big scoop of ice cream to go with it.
After the ducks, Malcolm noticed a playground on the town commons. He drug John to it, a small clearing with wooden climbing courses and metal antiques that spun and bobbled, and as John sat and watched, other kids came over to play with Malcolm in that easy way that children often do. Watching Malcolm play, running during tag or jumping and loping during their games of make-believe, filled John with a curious mixture of hope and dread. He hoped this would never end, he hoped he had crashed his car on the way to the farm and that this was heaven, and that he could simply sit here and watch his boy play for the rest of his days. At the same time, he dreaded when this would all end, and his sadness would creep back in as the delusion or dream or whatever this was ended.
"It's best not to think too hard about it, pal."
John jumped. Thomas had seated himself next to him, the stretched skin on his mouth still fashioned into that rictus of a smile that, up close, seemed almost painful. Why did he smile like that if the act clearly hurt him? He tried to find his words, but in the face of that painful smile, they all seemed to muddy in his mind.
"To think about what?" he finally ejaculated.
"How he can be or how he came to be here. He is here, he's your son, and its best not to think about it."
John watched him as though he thought he might vanish if he looked away.
"We can make a place for you here." Thomas continued, "A place for you and Malcolm. You can be a part of this community and know the blessing of the Bright as we all do."
John snapped his gaze back to Thomas, "I'm sorry, what are you talking about?"
Thomas put his old worn hands on his knees and grinned, "Well, you're here now. We have to find the two of you a place here in the community."
"Why would I do that?" John asked, genuinely perplexed.
The smile turned confused, "Well, you can't leave. The two of you have to stay."
John felt himself growing angry but tried to keep it in check.
This man had given him an irreplaceable gift, and it wouldn't be good manners to shout at him.
"Are you...are you trying to tell me that we can't leave?" he asked through gritted teeth.
Thomas shrugged, "Of course not, you're free to leave at any time. But Malcolm, he is of the Bright. You can't take him away from here; it would be cruel to do so."
Malcolm ran up about that time, his smiling face flushed with exertion.
"Daddy, some of the kids want to know if we'll attend service with them this evening. Can we go? It sounds fun."
John collected Malcolm into his arms then and stood towering over the smiling Thomas.
"No, son, I think it's time we left. Your mother will never believe it when I show you to her." but just the thought of sharing Malcolm made John feel strange.
Thomas seemed unperturbed by John, "I wouldn't do that friend. It never ends well."
"Just leave us alone," John said, backing away, "all of you just...leave us alone."
He was running by the time he made the parking lot; Malcolm's familiar weight born easily.
John's car was conspicuously absent. He had thought it was some kind of illusion, the tan-colored car would appear when he got a little closer, but now he saw that even the ruts he had left in the dirt lot were gone. The car was missing, and he was left with few options for escape. He turned towards the road and saw the quaint wooden gate rising in the distance. It could have been fifty feet, it could have been fifty miles, John didn't care.
As the sunset at his back, he began to walk towards the gate.
"Daddy, don't, I feel sick," Malcolm whined.
John ignored him, clinging to him as he jogged for the gate. He could flag down a car once they made the road. This was a busy road, after all, and a passing trucker or traveler would take them back to the city. They could be home by bedtime, and Malcolm could sleep in his bed beneath the watchful eyes of his baseball poster and his Starwars ships that hung from the ceiling by fishing line.
"Daddy?" Malcolm's voice sounded hoarse.
The dirt puffed under his feet as he jogged. With every step, he expected a torch-bearing mob to rise up to block his path. They wouldn't want him to take this miracle child from them, something that should not exist, and they would fight to stop him from leaving. He would fight them. They would kill him, but he would fight them. He would die, but his last image would be of Malcolm as he…
"Stop, I feel sick, Daddy. I don't want to leave. I want to...I want to…"
Malcolm became dead in his arms as he jogged. The stile came up before him, and he hefted the child in his arms as he ran. Malcolm was heavy, his skin clammy, something like sweat or tears dampening John's shirt as he ran. He was suddenly fearful, what if they had poisoned him? What if they had done something to Malcolm so he couldn't leave?
He finally looked down at his precious son and screamed into what had once been his face.
John found he was holding something more akin to a lump of clay. In his arms like a child's approximation of a person. The arms were thick and lumpy, the body little more than a badly formed torso of androgynous humps, and the head was malformed, its eyes and mouth little more than scooped out holes, with tufts of hair shoved hastily into the muck. When it turned its face to him and spoke, the voice of Malcolm rasped out, and John felt that he must surely be going mad.
He fell to his knees, the gate within arms reach, and wept into the bulbous chest of the Malcolm thing. This was unbearable. To lose his son again, and in such a way as this, was unthinkable. He couldn't recover from this. If this really was some dream, then this would be the part where he woke up screaming into his pillow. Things like this didn't happen under the eye of a loving God. There was only so much pain that a man could take before he broke completely.
He knelt in the dirt and sobbed into the mushy chest of his twice lost son, praying for insanity.
Praying for an end to understanding.
It was dark when Thomas found him.
John didn't shudder or even acknowledge him when he put a hand on his shoulder.
He looked up to him, and in the moonlight, his smile looked ghoulish.
"Why?" John croaked, his face awash with the muddy flesh of his still croaking boy, "why?"
Thomas only shook his grinning head, "I tried to tell you, friend. The gifts of Bright Farm are only for those who have accepted the Bright. The miracles experienced here are not for the outside world. If you want to stay with Malcolm, then you have to stay near the Bright."
John turned back to the odd boy thing.
He stared at it for a long time.
"If I accept this Bright, my son will be returned to me?"
"As he was before," Thomas assured.
John looked away, and in the moonlight, his martyr's mask was ghastly with the mush of his son's chest.
"Show me."
Thomas took him by the hand.
He led John towards the chapel that lay behind the cowshed. Inside, a sun seemed to shine only for those within. As they approached, John could feel it baking him and felt the warmth fill him. He felt his fear, his anger, his sadness, and all his doubt burned from him. Someone by the wooden doors took the boy shape from him, and at that moment, he barely noticed. He had discovered something new, something old.
As the doors were opened and the baking Bright shone over him, he felt his lips pulled into a painful smile.
The Bright was all he ever needed.
The thing he wanted but never knew.
He was burned anew by the Bright, and it was good.
The van pulled up in the dirt parking lot of the little community. The ramp came down, and the sandy-haired woman rolled her wheelchair onto the metal slab. As it descended, she began looking at the gawking faces that had gathered to see her decent. She had been wheelchair-bound since the accident, but she refused to let it stop her. Even if she'd had to crawl, she wouldn't have let it stop her from finding John.
For six months, she'd recovered in the hospital alone.
For six months, he had ignored her phone calls.
When the bank had called to let her know that her mortgage hasn't been paid in six months, she was worried.
When the police called to tell her that her husband's car had been found, abandoned, on the stretch of road leading up to this place, she had been terrified.
When her friend, Lisa, had seen him at the farmers market selling quilts and homegrown vegetables, however, she had been furious.
He had abandoned their old life to go find himself in the country, leaving her in the ICU to fight for her life and worry about him as he slid into silence.
She meant to find him and make him answer for his absence.
The wheels of her chair didn't much care for the dirt paths that led up to the two-story houses that seemed to be the living quarters for this little community. The man on the phone had told her that John lived in the house closest to the playground, and as she rolled towards the playground, she felt her arms grow stiff and non-compliant. She sat in the dirt road and gawked at the perfect, sandy-haired boy that was now standing atop the play structure and laughing with the other overall-clad children.
Malcolm.
It was Malcolm.
He looked at her then, and she saw recognition dawn on his face. He jumped from the structure, landing in that way that only children and drunks seem able, and ran to her with guileless joy. He buried his face against her chest, rubbing his soft hair against her, and fixed her with those deep green eyes that had enchanted her since his birth. It was him, in the flesh, and as he hugged her, she could no more summon the strength to hug him back than she could have summoned the strength to strangle him to death.
"Mommy, mommy, I missed you."
She saw a man rise from the bench, and through his tangled beard, she could see that it was John. He was smiling, his face a rictus of pleasured pain. His mouth smiled, but as she saw his eyes, she felt a stab of pain rip through her heart. His eyes were pinched, screaming, and as he approached, he seemed to be begging her to run. He bent to hug her, melding against his son easily as the two embraced her like some lost relation who came back again.
"How...how is this possible, John?"
He smiled at her with his painful grin.
"Come to the Barn, Claire. All things can be found if you're willing to see the light."
submitted by Erutious to SignalHorrorFiction [link] [comments]


2020.07.18 04:35 Erutious Bright Farm

"And so, we commit Malcolm Tyler to the earth. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust."
The dirt hit the top of the child-sized coffin as it slid into its final resting place.
John just sat there, surrounded by family and friends and yet utterly alone. Malcolm had been ten, on the cusp of the age of reason, and as John looked at the picture of him, that sat amongst the flowers, he could swear it was one of his baby pictures. Malcolm had loved baseball, superheroes, Star Wars, and old video games. He had clung to his father's passions, and the two had always been close. As he watched the coffin slip into the earth, John felt the tears slide down his face. They were naked and unashamed.
The seat next to him was empty too. His wife, Claire, was still in the hospital after the accident that had taken their son. The doctors had told him that she would likely recover but that she might never walk again. They had told him this as though it were a spectacular consolation prize. "Your son will never play in the majors or even see the Star Wars movie he was so looking forward to, but you can rest assured that your now cripple wife will be home as soon as we're done milking your insurance for all its worth."
He sat there and accepted the pats, the condolences, the meaningless words that fell on him like daggers.
His son was gone, and these people were telling him how sorry they were for his loss.
They didn't know loss. They were going to climb into their vehicles, with mostly complete partners, and go back to their homes so they could hug their own children and be glad it hadn't been them who'd lost someone important. They would put the funeral announcement in a drawer by the door where they kept their keys or their change, and one day they would drag it out by mistake and think how sad it had been that such a youngster had died in the prime of his life. Then they would throw it away or put it back in the drawer if they were sentimental and probably never think about it again.
He seethed over these thoughts as he sat in the hard plastic chair which had been provided by Copeland Funeral Home.
He seethed over these people and their routine, unbroken lives until he was the only one there.
Then John got up and went home.
John sat and watched TV, eating his tv dinner without much enthusiasm. The turkey was lumpy and had only cooked in the middle. The mashed potatoes were still half-frozen, and the gravy was like liquid lava. On TV, the news anchor was talking about the Green Man murders. The latest victim, Shelly Rhodes, had been discovered in an alley. The police were looking for anyone who might have seen the perpetrators. John watched, apathetically, as he spooned the mush into his mouth. A commercial came on for Anders Tires, and he tuned it out.
Malcolm had been dead for three days, and John had done little but wallow in his misery.
The house was like a monument to better times.
He had stood in the entryway most of the afternoon after the funeral, staring at a photo of him and Malcolm at the beach. Claire had taken it after they built that sandcastle they were both hunkered over. They had been at the shore for a week, Malcolm as brown as a nut after spending six days on the beach. The castle had begun as a lopsided thing before John had gotten involved. The plastic molds Malcolm had bought at the beachside stand were shoddy things, and John had known a thing or two about sandcastle building. Together they had constructed an elegant castle, complete with drawbridge and moat. The turrets had grown out of the sand, and the flags had been leaves plucked from a nearby tree.
Claire had been laughing as she snapped the photo, and the two of them had been grinning like fools over their accomplishment.
John felt tears fall from his eyes, saw them tumble into the unappetizing mashed potatoes, and spooned them into his mouth anyway.
Malcolm's room was the worst part of the house.
The room stood at the very top of the staircase, easily viewable from the downstairs landing. John had stood in the dark last night and just looked at the doorway from the bottom step. The nightlight cast the scene in a strange Shadowverse. He could vaguely see the baseball players trapped in their glory as they hung glossing from the walls with push pins. He could see the bookshelf where John had taken the night's bedtime story. He could see the balsa wood glider where it hung from the ceiling, the broken wing mocking him. How many times had John promised to fix it? How many times had he told Malcolm that he would go buy a tube of airplane glue? How many times had he gone to the store and not done it?
He had thought he had time.
He had thought he could do it some other when.
He had been wrong.
He had slept in his recliner every night after that.
The phone rang, dragging him from his misery. The picture on the screen was that of his wife, smiling like she was the happiest woman in the world, as Malcolm grinned from her hugging arms. John felt a sob creep up his throat. He would have to change that. He answered it on the sixth ring, saying hello without much enthusiasm.
"Hi, John." His wife sounded tired. She sounded like maybe she had been crying too. She sounded like John felt; ready to just give up and join their son in his eternal rest.
John found he didn't have much of a feeling about that.
"Hi, Claire."
"You didn't come to see me today."
He didn't have an answer to that, so he said nothing.
"Are you okay, John? I'm worried about you."
John thought about the question. He was not, he decided, okay, but if he told his wife that then she would worry. He hadn't come to see her today for that reason. Not for the reason he suspected that she suspected that he blamed her for their son's death. He no more blamed Claire than he blamed the car she had totaled when a semi-truck, driven by a man who was asleep at the wheel, had crushed the car against the guard rail. He didn't blame her for that; it was an event outside of her control.
He hadn't come to see her, because she would look at him and know that something was deeply wrong with him. She would see the dark circles, the pallid skin, the dirty face cleaned only by the tears that seem to run tirelessly, and she would worry. He didn't care about any of that, not really, but if she told a doctor about these things, then John might spend the next few months as a drooling zombie while they pumped him full of dope.
John did not want to dope his pain away.
He wanted to wallow in it like a pig in filth.
"John? Are you...are you mad at me?" He could hear the tears on the verge of bursting.
"No, Kay, I'm just tired." He said, using her pet name, "I haven't slept well since," his own tears slid out now, pale tracts of moisture that always seemed on the verge of falling, "since the funeral."
"I wanted to be there for you and for him, but…"
"I know." He lied.
He knew very little that he was confident of.
"I just wanted to make sure you were okay, John. I wish I were there to help you through this. I wish you were here to help me through this."
She was crying now, he could almost hear her tears as they slid against the phone.
He stared at the tv like a husk, incapable of feeling empathy for his sobbing wife.
"I know, but someone has to pay the bills; now more than ever."
That was a crock, said a voice in his brain. John had no more been to work than he'd been upstairs. Mr. Beatle had given him bereavement, and he had taken it without a fight. He had done little but sit morosely and fulfill his body's needs when they clawed against his consciousness. Feed the machine, empty the tank, sleep, rinse, repeat.
It was all very tedious.
"You sound tired, I'll let you get to sleep. Will I see you tomorrow?"
"Yeah," he said, lying again, "I'll swing by after work and see how you're doing."
"I'd like that. I miss you, John, I love you."
"I love you too, Kay."
The lies came easily.
He hung up the phone and continued to wallow.
"Are you unhappy?" Asked the man on the tv. He was a tall fellow, sleek black hair, and a thin mustache that looked oily. He was wearing a butcher apron over a white shirt and smiling into the camera like he could see through John's tv screen. It was a little unsettling.
John kept watching, figuring the commercial would be over soon.
"Feeling empty? Perhaps seeking something you've lost?"
John shoveled more food into his mouth but felt his eyes locked on this greasy salesman.
"Here at Bright Farm, we pride ourselves on helping those who are lost come back into the light. Whatever your seeking, you can be sure that we have it here at Bright Farms. Our councilors are here 24/7 to,"
John lifted the remote, a job that seemed harder than it should have, and flipped over to the next channel.
"make sure the light does not escape you in your time of need."
What the hell?
It was the same commercial.
He clicked over again.
"Maybe you've recently had a crisis of faith? Suffered an event that's made you question the existence of a wide and shining God. Maybe you've lost your way, no longer feel that life is worth living,"
John has changed the channel seven times while the man was taking but found him on every channel. For some reason, the man-made him uncomfortable, and he wanted to see anything on the tube at this point. A baseball game, an old movie, a stupid sitcom, anything but this man and his smiling face. As he watched, the smile seemed to stretch under that mustache, and as he clicked the button to turn the set off, he realized that the man's eyes were fixed directly on him. The man was staring at him through the tv, and the veins in his eyes seem to pulsate as he watched.
"maybe you've even lost someone you loved. A mother, a brother,"
The eyes got very intense, and no matter how many times he hit the off button, the tv stayed on.
"A son?"
He was staring right at him now and clearly only at him.
"He's here, John. He's here, and all you have to do is come to him. What are you waiting for, John? Why are you just sitting there, John? He misses you, JOHN!" The man was screaming from the tv, and John was aware of his dinner leaking into the sweat pants he was wearing. He had upset the little plastic tray, but it hardly seemed to matter. The man on the tv was beating his fists against the glass front and yelling at John, questioning him, asking why he didn't come to his son if he missed him so damn much?
John screamed, and as he did, he came awake all at once.
The screen was snow, and he had indeed spilled his dinner.
He turned off the television, cleaned up his chair, and thought longingly about going up to bed.
It only took him a few minutes at the bottom of the stairs to return to his recliner.
He slept fitfully.
He woke up early the next morning, bright and early. This was something he seemed unable to shake from his old life. His job had expected him to arrive at eight AM every day, and his brain seemed hardwired to wake up at six am every morning. He thought about going to work, maybe a day at the office would set him right. He could sit in his office and go over accounts and feel like his usual self. He could pretend that, when the five o'clock bell rang, he could go home to his lovely wife and best buddy in their two bed, two bath home, and when he got off and drove home, he would find it just that way.
He only stood at the foot of the stairs for twenty minutes, seeing the pennants on the wall and watching the broken plane hanging suspended from the ceiling before he turned away and went to the kitchen instead.
There would be no normal life for him.
Never again.
The round cereal clinked into the bowl cheerily. The box declared that it was Space Acers, and it had been one of Malcolm's favorites. The marshmallows stood out amongst the grain circles. They were the kind of neon color that only a kid could love, the lumpy multicolor of poor craftsmanship, and lack of real care. He saw a tear fall into them as he studied them. He remembered how Malcolm had sung the jingle every time he ate them. He remembered how Malcolm could name all seven different marshmallow shapes, remembering when he'd gotten so excited over that Captain Acer decoder ring he'd found in a box last year.
He saw another tear fall into the cereal and turned to get the milk. He opened the door and scanned the pristine white glow of the refrigerator for the carton. He was momentarily worried that they were out, but suddenly, the Happy Cow's face came into view. When he picked it up, he got a nasty shock as he realized that Bright Farms Diary was printed over the head of the smiling cow. Had they always provided their milk? He was sure it had been a different company last week. He turned the carton, reading the description on the side, feeling a kind of surreal haze role over him.
It told how Bright Dairy cows were the happiest cows in the world.
It told how Bright Dairy was the leading provider of Dairy for his area.
Then he turned the carton and felt it slip out of his numb fingers. As it fell, he could clearly see the Missing Child picture on the side of the carton. The black and white photo made it hard to make out his exact features, but John would know the boy's sandy brown hair and green eyes, even in black and white. He was smiling, as he had been in the beach picture, and under the picture was the legend "Found Child: Answers to Malcolm. Misses his father. Wants to know why his father hasn't come to get him. Wants to know why his father doesn't love him."
The milk puddled on the ground as his son's face stared up at him from the floor.
He felt his tear patter into the pool as he looked down at the spilled milk.
"What do you mean you're out of milk?"
John had been to three different stores, and each of them had been out of milk. The first two had little signs taped up on their milk coolers, saying how sorry they were that they were out of milk. There had been no one to yell at there, but at the third store, he had found someone to yell at. The man in the plastic apron bore it well, clearly not his first irate customer today, and flashed his pasted on grin in the face of John's ire.
"Sorry, sir, but the company had a little trouble with their truck today. You could try another store, I suppose, but I'm guessing they're all in the same boat."
Smug prick, John thought.
He knew they were all in the same boat.
"You could always go down to Bright Farms and get the milk yourself." The man added, taking a step away as though trying to distance himself from the conversation.
John watched him go, breathing out disgustedly as he went back to the parking lot to find his car.
He guessed he was going to Bright Farms.
Bright Farms looked almost idyllic.
John had driven for almost an hour, making his way out of the hustle and bustle of the city and into the more rural areas that surrounded it. Here was the farm belt, the farms with acres of land all planted with vegetables in neat rows or with livestock happily munching grass in the fields. John saw big red barns and farmhouses with long porches, people moving about between them as they went about their daily lives. The road ran on and on, and when his GPS said he had arrived, he almost didn't believe it. The farm had seemed like such a strange place in the infomercial. Some kind of farm akin to a backwoods gospel tent where miracles happened, or at least they claimed they did.
This place looked like the place in the Hidden Valley commercials.
The road turned left onto a hard-packed dirt track. John could see fields ripe with produce, an orchard in the distance with happy pickers at work, a long pair of barns for cows or sheep maybe, and several tall wooden houses that looked almost Amish. The sign over the road read "Bright Farms" in cheery white letters. The place seemed downright peaceful, downright wholesome.
John turned his car down the road and drove towards the cluster of buildings.
There were eight two-story houses built of dark brown wood. Heavy windows looked down from the buildings, and to anyone on the ground, they looked like disapproving eyes. Among them, as though surrounded, was a squat little building with a long porch complete with rockers. A sign hung across the roof declared it to be the General Store. John thought it was as good a place as any to find some information, so he mounted the steps and went inside.
A bell tinkled overhead merrily.
The inside was a packed but orderly arrangement of everything one might need for frontier life at the turn of the century. There were long shelves stacked with sacks of beans and corn, flour and sugar, bolts of cloth and spools of thread, and an overwhelming smell of brine that led him to a huge pickle jar near the front of the store. Behind a long counter, stood a man in a butchers apron, his dark hair and small mustache looking eerily familiar, wearing the biggest smile John had ever seen. He stared intently at John, and the attention made his skin crawl.
"Morning stranger, are you here for the milk?"
"I guess," John said.
The man cocked his smiling head, "Pardon me for saying so, sir, but you don't really seem sure."
"I...I seem to be drawn here for some reason lately. I see your commercials and your products, and they seem to be calling me here."
The man cocked his head to the side and then snapped his fingers loudly, "I thought you looked familiar, your John, right?"
John jumped a little, "How do you know my name?"
"Oh, we've been waiting for you. We've been keeping something very special for you, it's in the barn. Come on."
The shopkeeper went off into the room behind the counter, beckoning as he left. John felt drawn to follow him, but as he stepped, he contemplated. Was he really going to just follow this stranger into the back of his store? These people clearly wanted him here for some reason. Why give them what they wanted? Unless...unless they might actually have…
"Coming?" called a voice from the back.
John was around the counter before he could stop himself.
He followed him into the back of the store, a shadowy mountain of creaking shelves, but the man in the apron was already standing by an open back door. He led him out into the bright dooryard and pointed to the long cow shed he had seen before. If he had thought that it looked too big from the road, now it seemed to stretch off towards the field for too long. It wasn't just the length either, the shed looked odd somehow. It looked like the kind of place that held secrets best left unfound, like a freakshow tent or the back room of a snake handlers' revival. John hesitated as the man took a step toward the shed, not wanting to know what lay inside.
The man looked back, cheerily, "Don't you want to see what we have for you? He's been waiting for so long."
"Who?" John asked, but the man was already walking towards the shed, and John had to step quickly to catch up.
The shed door creaked open ominously as the shopkeeper slid it to the side. He reached inside and fumbled against the wall until a loud snap signaled the lights to life. They clicked on rapidly, lighting overhead fluorescents snapping on in a quick pattern that lit the small wooden berths in the long cow shed. As they stepped inside, the man walked briskly, and John tried to follow as his curious eyes also tried to take in what lay inside each of the berths. Most were people, confused and naked as they sat in the straw, but some were full of objects or money or precious items. The worst were the shadowy stalls that held things with red eyes and furtive breaths. The huddled in the darkness and looked at him as he went past. Their eyes held no recognizable emotion except hate.
After a minute of quick walking, they came to a stop.
The man extended his hand towards a closed stall.
"This is it. Hurry up, he's waiting for you."
John was a few steps behind him, the berth next to this one holding a smashed in Mercedes. When he heard the man speak, his voice echoing in this strangely quiet place, John shivered a little. He didn't want to disturb the things here, many of which were rather disturbing on their own. John didn't want to know what might happen if they suddenly decided to leave their stalls and come out where they could get at him.
As he came up to the gate of his berth, he could see a small, naked boy of about ten who was sitting on the floor with his knees hugged up to his chest. A head of sandy blond hair was visible between those knees, and John felt his breath stick in his chest. The hair was soft, baby fine, and looked thick and recently washed. It piled artlessly on top of the small head, just as Malcomn's always had, and John felt the tears slide down his face as he remembered how it had poked out underneath his baseball cap when he pulled it down to get it out of his face.
Then the boy looked up with those too green eyes, and John saw Malcolm smile at him from the straw strewn floor.
"Daddy?"
The boy asked it as though he didn't dare quite believe it.
It was too much.
John felt his knees unhinge, and suddenly he was falling into darkness as the naked boy rose from the floor and came to peek at him through the stall door.
The last thing he saw before blacking out was those too green eyes as they bore into him.
He came awake with those eyes staring at him.
Someone had put him in a bed. The sheets were soft and the pillowy luxurious, but the blanket was like sandpaper as it lay atop him. The boy perched on his chest was digging it into him painfully, and as he woke up, the boy smiled and crawled to snuggle with him under the blanket. He wrapped his small arms around him and seemed to notice the uncomfortable fabric not at all. John felt the comfortable press of his sons as he lay beside him. How many days had he woken up just this way? Malcolm pressed between him and his wife as they slept together, his warmth comfortable against John's back as he wormed in between them. John wrapped his own arms around him and breathed in the scent of fabric softener, the off-brand shampoo his wife bought for them, and warm grass that always seemed to hang around Malcolm.
John opened his eyes.
He expected to wake up in his own bed, the dream evaporating around him, but Malcolm was still there.
The door opened then. The man from behind the counter walked in, his hard boots knocking on the wooden floor, and he smiled his too-wide smile at John.
"You're awake," he stated.
John sat up and put a protective arm around his son. The boy was dressed in a pair of overalls, a blue shirt beneath, and John saw that he was still wearing the clothes he had arrived in. The room was spartan, a bed and an end table being its only elements, and as the smiling man towered over them, John began to feel self-conscious. He slid out of bed, Malcolm still clinging to him, and faced the man.
"How is it that you came to have my son?"
The man shrugged, "The Farm knows what people want, it knows what people need. One day I was sweeping up, and there he was, just sittin there. He looked up with those big green eyes and asked where his daddy was, and I just knew that sooner or later you'd come looking."
John ruffled Malcomn's hair, "I'm glad I did. It seemed like everything lately was trying to bring me here."
"Are you hungry?" the smiling man asked suddenly, "Margarette, my wife, just about has lunch ready, and she'd be tickled pink if you'd join us."
John looked down into Malcomn's deep green eyes and smiled, "Sure, why not?"
They spent the rest of the day together. After lunch, Thomas took them down to feed day-old bread to the ducks in his little pond. Thomas, the smiling man, had finally introduced himself, and as he and his wife, a smiling plump woman of middle age, had fed them from their table, John couldn't take his eyes off Malcolm. The boy dug into the meal just as his boy always had like it might be the last he'd ever have, and when Margarette offered them each a piece of the pie, the boy's eyes lit up with excitement. How many birthdays had John seen that same expression cross his face as the cake came out? Malcolm caught John staring and smiled shyly at him as Margarette added a big scoop of ice cream to go with it.
After the ducks, Malcolm noticed a playground on the town commons. He drug John to it, a small clearing with wooden climbing courses and metal antiques that spun and bobbled, and as John sat and watched, other kids came over to play with Malcolm in that easy way that children often do. Watching Malcolm play, running during tag or jumping and loping during their games of make-believe, filled John with a curious mixture of hope and dread. He hoped this would never end, he hoped he had crashed his car on the way to the farm and that this was heaven, and that he could simply sit here and watch his boy play for the rest of his days. At the same time, he dreaded when this would all end, and his sadness would creep back in as the delusion or dream or whatever this was ended.
"It's best not to think too hard about it, pal."
John jumped. Thomas had seated himself next to him, the stretched skin on his mouth still fashioned into that rictus of a smile that, up close, seemed almost painful. Why did he smile like that if the act clearly hurt him? He tried to find his words, but in the face of that painful smile, they all seemed to muddy in his mind.
"To think about what?" he finally ejaculated.
"How he can be or how he came to be here. He is here, he's your son, and its best not to think about it."
John watched him as though he thought he might vanish if he looked away.
"We can make a place for you here." Thomas continued, "A place for you and Malcolm. You can be a part of this community and know the blessing of the Bright as we all do."
John snapped his gaze back to Thomas, "I'm sorry, what are you talking about?"
Thomas put his old worn hands on his knees and grinned, "Well, you're here now. We have to find the two of you a place here in the community."
"Why would I do that?" John asked, genuinely perplexed.
The smile turned confused, "Well, you can't leave. The two of you have to stay."
John felt himself growing angry but tried to keep it in check.
This man had given him an irreplaceable gift, and it wouldn't be good manners to shout at him.
"Are you...are you trying to tell me that we can't leave?" he asked through gritted teeth.
Thomas shrugged, "Of course not, you're free to leave at any time. But Malcolm, he is of the Bright. You can't take him away from here; it would be cruel to do so."
Malcolm ran up about that time, his smiling face flushed with exertion.
"Daddy, some of the kids want to know if we'll attend service with them this evening. Can we go? It sounds fun."
John collected Malcolm into his arms then and stood towering over the smiling Thomas.
"No, son, I think it's time we left. Your mother will never believe it when I show you to her." but just the thought of sharing Malcolm made John feel strange.
Thomas seemed unperturbed by John, "I wouldn't do that friend. It never ends well."
"Just leave us alone," John said, backing away, "all of you just...leave us alone."
He was running by the time he made the parking lot; Malcolm's familiar weight born easily.
John's car was conspicuously absent. He had thought it was some kind of illusion, the tan-colored car would appear when he got a little closer, but now he saw that even the ruts he had left in the dirt lot were gone. The car was missing, and he was left with few options for escape. He turned towards the road and saw the quaint wooden gate rising in the distance. It could have been fifty feet, it could have been fifty miles, John didn't care.
As the sunset at his back, he began to walk towards the gate.
"Daddy, don't, I feel sick," Malcolm whined.
John ignored him, clinging to him as he jogged for the gate. He could flag down a car once they made the road. This was a busy road, after all, and a passing trucker or traveler would take them back to the city. They could be home by bedtime, and Malcolm could sleep in his bed beneath the watchful eyes of his baseball poster and his Starwars ships that hung from the ceiling by fishing line.
"Daddy?" Malcolm's voice sounded hoarse.
The dirt puffed under his feet as he jogged. With every step, he expected a torch-bearing mob to rise up to block his path. They wouldn't want him to take this miracle child from them, something that should not exist, and they would fight to stop him from leaving. He would fight them. They would kill him, but he would fight them. He would die, but his last image would be of Malcolm as he…
"Stop, I feel sick, Daddy. I don't want to leave. I want to...I want to…"
Malcolm became dead in his arms as he jogged. The stile came up before him, and he hefted the child in his arms as he ran. Malcolm was heavy, his skin clammy, something like sweat or tears dampening John's shirt as he ran. He was suddenly fearful, what if they had poisoned him? What if they had done something to Malcolm so he couldn't leave?
He finally looked down at his precious son and screamed into what had once been his face.
John found he was holding something more akin to a lump of clay. In his arms like a child's approximation of a person. The arms were thick and lumpy, the body little more than a badly formed torso of androgynous humps, and the head was malformed, its eyes and mouth little more than scooped out holes, with tufts of hair shoved hastily into the muck. When it turned its face to him and spoke, the voice of Malcolm rasped out, and John felt that he must surely be going mad.
He fell to his knees, the gate within arms reach, and wept into the bulbous chest of the Malcolm thing. This was unbearable. To lose his son again, and in such a way as this, was unthinkable. He couldn't recover from this. If this really was some dream, then this would be the part where he woke up screaming into his pillow. Things like this didn't happen under the eye of a loving God. There was only so much pain that a man could take before he broke completely.
He knelt in the dirt and sobbed into the mushy chest of his twice lost son, praying for insanity.
Praying for an end to understanding.
It was dark when Thomas found him.
John didn't shudder or even acknowledge him when he put a hand on his shoulder.
He looked up to him, and in the moonlight, his smile looked ghoulish.
"Why?" John croaked, his face awash with the muddy flesh of his still croaking boy, "why?"
Thomas only shook his grinning head, "I tried to tell you, friend. The gifts of Bright Farm are only for those who have accepted the Bright. The miracles experienced here are not for the outside world. If you want to stay with Malcolm, then you have to stay near the Bright."
John turned back to the odd boy thing.
He stared at it for a long time.
"If I accept this Bright, my son will be returned to me?"
"As he was before," Thomas assured.
John looked away, and in the moonlight, his martyr's mask was ghastly with the mush of his son's chest.
"Show me."
Thomas took him by the hand.
He led John towards the chapel that lay behind the cowshed. Inside, a sun seemed to shine only for those within. As they approached, John could feel it baking him and felt the warmth fill him. He felt his fear, his anger, his sadness, and all his doubt burned from him. Someone by the wooden doors took the boy shape from him, and at that moment, he barely noticed. He had discovered something new, something old.
As the doors were opened and the baking Bright shone over him, he felt his lips pulled into a painful smile.
The Bright was all he ever needed.
The thing he wanted but never knew.
He was burned anew by the Bright, and it was good.
The van pulled up in the dirt parking lot of the little community. The ramp came down, and the sandy-haired woman rolled her wheelchair onto the metal slab. As it descended, she began looking at the gawking faces that had gathered to see her decent. She had been wheelchair-bound since the accident, but she refused to let it stop her. Even if she'd had to crawl, she wouldn't have let it stop her from finding John.
For six months, she'd recovered in the hospital alone.
For six months, he had ignored her phone calls.
When the bank had called to let her know that her mortgage hasn't been paid in six months, she was worried.
When the police called to tell her that her husband's car had been found, abandoned, on the stretch of road leading up to this place, she had been terrified.
When her friend, Lisa, had seen him at the farmers market selling quilts and homegrown vegetables, however, she had been furious.
He had abandoned their old life to go find himself in the country, leaving her in the ICU to fight for her life and worry about him as he slid into silence.
She meant to find him and make him answer for his absence.
The wheels of her chair didn't much care for the dirt paths that led up to the two-story houses that seemed to be the living quarters for this little community. The man on the phone had told her that John lived in the house closest to the playground, and as she rolled towards the playground, she felt her arms grow stiff and non-compliant. She sat in the dirt road and gawked at the perfect, sandy-haired boy that was now standing atop the play structure and laughing with the other overall-clad children.
Malcolm.
It was Malcolm.
He looked at her then, and she saw recognition dawn on his face. He jumped from the structure, landing in that way that only children and drunks seem able, and ran to her with guileless joy. He buried his face against her chest, rubbing his soft hair against her, and fixed her with those deep green eyes that had enchanted her since his birth. It was him, in the flesh, and as he hugged her, she could no more summon the strength to hug him back than she could have summoned the strength to strangle him to death.
"Mommy, mommy, I missed you."
She saw a man rise from the bench, and through his tangled beard, she could see that it was John. He was smiling, his face a rictus of pleasured pain. His mouth smiled, but as she saw his eyes, she felt a stab of pain rip through her heart. His eyes were pinched, screaming, and as he approached, he seemed to be begging her to run. He bent to hug her, melding against his son easily as the two embraced her like some lost relation who came back again.
"How...how is this possible, John?"
He smiled at her with his painful grin.
"Come to the Barn, Claire. All things can be found if you're willing to see the light."
submitted by Erutious to libraryofshadows [link] [comments]


2020.07.18 04:34 Erutious Bright Farm

"And so, we commit Malcolm Tyler to the earth. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust."
The dirt hit the top of the child-sized coffin as it slid into its final resting place.
John just sat there, surrounded by family and friends and yet utterly alone. Malcolm had been ten, on the cusp of the age of reason, and as John looked at the picture of him, that sat amongst the flowers, he could swear it was one of his baby pictures. Malcolm had loved baseball, superheroes, Star Wars, and old video games. He had clung to his father's passions, and the two had always been close. As he watched the coffin slip into the earth, John felt the tears slide down his face. They were naked and unashamed.
The seat next to him was empty too. His wife, Claire, was still in the hospital after the accident that had taken their son. The doctors had told him that she would likely recover but that she might never walk again. They had told him this as though it were a spectacular consolation prize. "Your son will never play in the majors or even see the Star Wars movie he was so looking forward to, but you can rest assured that your now cripple wife will be home as soon as we're done milking your insurance for all its worth."
He sat there and accepted the pats, the condolences, the meaningless words that fell on him like daggers.
His son was gone, and these people were telling him how sorry they were for his loss.
They didn't know loss. They were going to climb into their vehicles, with mostly complete partners, and go back to their homes so they could hug their own children and be glad it hadn't been them who'd lost someone important. They would put the funeral announcement in a drawer by the door where they kept their keys or their change, and one day they would drag it out by mistake and think how sad it had been that such a youngster had died in the prime of his life. Then they would throw it away or put it back in the drawer if they were sentimental and probably never think about it again.
He seethed over these thoughts as he sat in the hard plastic chair which had been provided by Copeland Funeral Home.
He seethed over these people and their routine, unbroken lives until he was the only one there.
Then John got up and went home.
John sat and watched TV, eating his tv dinner without much enthusiasm. The turkey was lumpy and had only cooked in the middle. The mashed potatoes were still half-frozen, and the gravy was like liquid lava. On TV, the news anchor was talking about the Green Man murders. The latest victim, Shelly Rhodes, had been discovered in an alley. The police were looking for anyone who might have seen the perpetrators. John watched, apathetically, as he spooned the mush into his mouth. A commercial came on for Anders Tires, and he tuned it out.
Malcolm had been dead for three days, and John had done little but wallow in his misery.
The house was like a monument to better times.
He had stood in the entryway most of the afternoon after the funeral, staring at a photo of him and Malcolm at the beach. Claire had taken it after they built that sandcastle they were both hunkered over. They had been at the shore for a week, Malcolm as brown as a nut after spending six days on the beach. The castle had begun as a lopsided thing before John had gotten involved. The plastic molds Malcolm had bought at the beachside stand were shoddy things, and John had known a thing or two about sandcastle building. Together they had constructed an elegant castle, complete with drawbridge and moat. The turrets had grown out of the sand, and the flags had been leaves plucked from a nearby tree.
Claire had been laughing as she snapped the photo, and the two of them had been grinning like fools over their accomplishment.
John felt tears fall from his eyes, saw them tumble into the unappetizing mashed potatoes, and spooned them into his mouth anyway.
Malcolm's room was the worst part of the house.
The room stood at the very top of the staircase, easily viewable from the downstairs landing. John had stood in the dark last night and just looked at the doorway from the bottom step. The nightlight cast the scene in a strange Shadowverse. He could vaguely see the baseball players trapped in their glory as they hung glossing from the walls with push pins. He could see the bookshelf where John had taken the night's bedtime story. He could see the balsa wood glider where it hung from the ceiling, the broken wing mocking him. How many times had John promised to fix it? How many times had he told Malcolm that he would go buy a tube of airplane glue? How many times had he gone to the store and not done it?
He had thought he had time.
He had thought he could do it some other when.
He had been wrong.
He had slept in his recliner every night after that.
The phone rang, dragging him from his misery. The picture on the screen was that of his wife, smiling like she was the happiest woman in the world, as Malcolm grinned from her hugging arms. John felt a sob creep up his throat. He would have to change that. He answered it on the sixth ring, saying hello without much enthusiasm.
"Hi, John." His wife sounded tired. She sounded like maybe she had been crying too. She sounded like John felt; ready to just give up and join their son in his eternal rest.
John found he didn't have much of a feeling about that.
"Hi, Claire."
"You didn't come to see me today."
He didn't have an answer to that, so he said nothing.
"Are you okay, John? I'm worried about you."
John thought about the question. He was not, he decided, okay, but if he told his wife that then she would worry. He hadn't come to see her today for that reason. Not for the reason he suspected that she suspected that he blamed her for their son's death. He no more blamed Claire than he blamed the car she had totaled when a semi-truck, driven by a man who was asleep at the wheel, had crushed the car against the guard rail. He didn't blame her for that; it was an event outside of her control.
He hadn't come to see her, because she would look at him and know that something was deeply wrong with him. She would see the dark circles, the pallid skin, the dirty face cleaned only by the tears that seem to run tirelessly, and she would worry. He didn't care about any of that, not really, but if she told a doctor about these things, then John might spend the next few months as a drooling zombie while they pumped him full of dope.
John did not want to dope his pain away.
He wanted to wallow in it like a pig in filth.
"John? Are you...are you mad at me?" He could hear the tears on the verge of bursting.
"No, Kay, I'm just tired." He said, using her pet name, "I haven't slept well since," his own tears slid out now, pale tracts of moisture that always seemed on the verge of falling, "since the funeral."
"I wanted to be there for you and for him, but…"
"I know." He lied.
He knew very little that he was confident of.
"I just wanted to make sure you were okay, John. I wish I were there to help you through this. I wish you were here to help me through this."
She was crying now, he could almost hear her tears as they slid against the phone.
He stared at the tv like a husk, incapable of feeling empathy for his sobbing wife.
"I know, but someone has to pay the bills; now more than ever."
That was a crock, said a voice in his brain. John had no more been to work than he'd been upstairs. Mr. Beatle had given him bereavement, and he had taken it without a fight. He had done little but sit morosely and fulfill his body's needs when they clawed against his consciousness. Feed the machine, empty the tank, sleep, rinse, repeat.
It was all very tedious.
"You sound tired, I'll let you get to sleep. Will I see you tomorrow?"
"Yeah," he said, lying again, "I'll swing by after work and see how you're doing."
"I'd like that. I miss you, John, I love you."
"I love you too, Kay."
The lies came easily.
He hung up the phone and continued to wallow.
"Are you unhappy?" Asked the man on the tv. He was a tall fellow, sleek black hair, and a thin mustache that looked oily. He was wearing a butcher apron over a white shirt and smiling into the camera like he could see through John's tv screen. It was a little unsettling.
John kept watching, figuring the commercial would be over soon.
"Feeling empty? Perhaps seeking something you've lost?"
John shoveled more food into his mouth but felt his eyes locked on this greasy salesman.
"Here at Bright Farm, we pride ourselves on helping those who are lost come back into the light. Whatever your seeking, you can be sure that we have it here at Bright Farms. Our councilors are here 24/7 to,"
John lifted the remote, a job that seemed harder than it should have, and flipped over to the next channel.
"make sure the light does not escape you in your time of need."
What the hell?
It was the same commercial.
He clicked over again.
"Maybe you've recently had a crisis of faith? Suffered an event that's made you question the existence of a wide and shining God. Maybe you've lost your way, no longer feel that life is worth living,"
John has changed the channel seven times while the man was taking but found him on every channel. For some reason, the man-made him uncomfortable, and he wanted to see anything on the tube at this point. A baseball game, an old movie, a stupid sitcom, anything but this man and his smiling face. As he watched, the smile seemed to stretch under that mustache, and as he clicked the button to turn the set off, he realized that the man's eyes were fixed directly on him. The man was staring at him through the tv, and the veins in his eyes seem to pulsate as he watched.
"maybe you've even lost someone you loved. A mother, a brother,"
The eyes got very intense, and no matter how many times he hit the off button, the tv stayed on.
"A son?"
He was staring right at him now and clearly only at him.
"He's here, John. He's here, and all you have to do is come to him. What are you waiting for, John? Why are you just sitting there, John? He misses you, JOHN!" The man was screaming from the tv, and John was aware of his dinner leaking into the sweat pants he was wearing. He had upset the little plastic tray, but it hardly seemed to matter. The man on the tv was beating his fists against the glass front and yelling at John, questioning him, asking why he didn't come to his son if he missed him so damn much?
John screamed, and as he did, he came awake all at once.
The screen was snow, and he had indeed spilled his dinner.
He turned off the television, cleaned up his chair, and thought longingly about going up to bed.
It only took him a few minutes at the bottom of the stairs to return to his recliner.
He slept fitfully.
He woke up early the next morning, bright and early. This was something he seemed unable to shake from his old life. His job had expected him to arrive at eight AM every day, and his brain seemed hardwired to wake up at six am every morning. He thought about going to work, maybe a day at the office would set him right. He could sit in his office and go over accounts and feel like his usual self. He could pretend that, when the five o'clock bell rang, he could go home to his lovely wife and best buddy in their two bed, two bath home, and when he got off and drove home, he would find it just that way.
He only stood at the foot of the stairs for twenty minutes, seeing the pennants on the wall and watching the broken plane hanging suspended from the ceiling before he turned away and went to the kitchen instead.
There would be no normal life for him.
Never again.
The round cereal clinked into the bowl cheerily. The box declared that it was Space Acers, and it had been one of Malcolm's favorites. The marshmallows stood out amongst the grain circles. They were the kind of neon color that only a kid could love, the lumpy multicolor of poor craftsmanship, and lack of real care. He saw a tear fall into them as he studied them. He remembered how Malcolm had sung the jingle every time he ate them. He remembered how Malcolm could name all seven different marshmallow shapes, remembering when he'd gotten so excited over that Captain Acer decoder ring he'd found in a box last year.
He saw another tear fall into the cereal and turned to get the milk. He opened the door and scanned the pristine white glow of the refrigerator for the carton. He was momentarily worried that they were out, but suddenly, the Happy Cow's face came into view. When he picked it up, he got a nasty shock as he realized that Bright Farms Diary was printed over the head of the smiling cow. Had they always provided their milk? He was sure it had been a different company last week. He turned the carton, reading the description on the side, feeling a kind of surreal haze role over him.
It told how Bright Dairy cows were the happiest cows in the world.
It told how Bright Dairy was the leading provider of Dairy for his area.
Then he turned the carton and felt it slip out of his numb fingers. As it fell, he could clearly see the Missing Child picture on the side of the carton. The black and white photo made it hard to make out his exact features, but John would know the boy's sandy brown hair and green eyes, even in black and white. He was smiling, as he had been in the beach picture, and under the picture was the legend "Found Child: Answers to Malcolm. Misses his father. Wants to know why his father hasn't come to get him. Wants to know why his father doesn't love him."
The milk puddled on the ground as his son's face stared up at him from the floor.
He felt his tear patter into the pool as he looked down at the spilled milk.
"What do you mean you're out of milk?"
John had been to three different stores, and each of them had been out of milk. The first two had little signs taped up on their milk coolers, saying how sorry they were that they were out of milk. There had been no one to yell at there, but at the third store, he had found someone to yell at. The man in the plastic apron bore it well, clearly not his first irate customer today, and flashed his pasted on grin in the face of John's ire.
"Sorry, sir, but the company had a little trouble with their truck today. You could try another store, I suppose, but I'm guessing they're all in the same boat."
Smug prick, John thought.
He knew they were all in the same boat.
"You could always go down to Bright Farms and get the milk yourself." The man added, taking a step away as though trying to distance himself from the conversation.
John watched him go, breathing out disgustedly as he went back to the parking lot to find his car.
He guessed he was going to Bright Farms.
Bright Farms looked almost idyllic.
John had driven for almost an hour, making his way out of the hustle and bustle of the city and into the more rural areas that surrounded it. Here was the farm belt, the farms with acres of land all planted with vegetables in neat rows or with livestock happily munching grass in the fields. John saw big red barns and farmhouses with long porches, people moving about between them as they went about their daily lives. The road ran on and on, and when his GPS said he had arrived, he almost didn't believe it. The farm had seemed like such a strange place in the infomercial. Some kind of farm akin to a backwoods gospel tent where miracles happened, or at least they claimed they did.
This place looked like the place in the Hidden Valley commercials.
The road turned left onto a hard-packed dirt track. John could see fields ripe with produce, an orchard in the distance with happy pickers at work, a long pair of barns for cows or sheep maybe, and several tall wooden houses that looked almost Amish. The sign over the road read "Bright Farms" in cheery white letters. The place seemed downright peaceful, downright wholesome.
John turned his car down the road and drove towards the cluster of buildings.
There were eight two-story houses built of dark brown wood. Heavy windows looked down from the buildings, and to anyone on the ground, they looked like disapproving eyes. Among them, as though surrounded, was a squat little building with a long porch complete with rockers. A sign hung across the roof declared it to be the General Store. John thought it was as good a place as any to find some information, so he mounted the steps and went inside.
A bell tinkled overhead merrily.
The inside was a packed but orderly arrangement of everything one might need for frontier life at the turn of the century. There were long shelves stacked with sacks of beans and corn, flour and sugar, bolts of cloth and spools of thread, and an overwhelming smell of brine that led him to a huge pickle jar near the front of the store. Behind a long counter, stood a man in a butchers apron, his dark hair and small mustache looking eerily familiar, wearing the biggest smile John had ever seen. He stared intently at John, and the attention made his skin crawl.
"Morning stranger, are you here for the milk?"
"I guess," John said.
The man cocked his smiling head, "Pardon me for saying so, sir, but you don't really seem sure."
"I...I seem to be drawn here for some reason lately. I see your commercials and your products, and they seem to be calling me here."
The man cocked his head to the side and then snapped his fingers loudly, "I thought you looked familiar, your John, right?"
John jumped a little, "How do you know my name?"
"Oh, we've been waiting for you. We've been keeping something very special for you, it's in the barn. Come on."
The shopkeeper went off into the room behind the counter, beckoning as he left. John felt drawn to follow him, but as he stepped, he contemplated. Was he really going to just follow this stranger into the back of his store? These people clearly wanted him here for some reason. Why give them what they wanted? Unless...unless they might actually have…
"Coming?" called a voice from the back.
John was around the counter before he could stop himself.
He followed him into the back of the store, a shadowy mountain of creaking shelves, but the man in the apron was already standing by an open back door. He led him out into the bright dooryard and pointed to the long cow shed he had seen before. If he had thought that it looked too big from the road, now it seemed to stretch off towards the field for too long. It wasn't just the length either, the shed looked odd somehow. It looked like the kind of place that held secrets best left unfound, like a freakshow tent or the back room of a snake handlers' revival. John hesitated as the man took a step toward the shed, not wanting to know what lay inside.
The man looked back, cheerily, "Don't you want to see what we have for you? He's been waiting for so long."
"Who?" John asked, but the man was already walking towards the shed, and John had to step quickly to catch up.
The shed door creaked open ominously as the shopkeeper slid it to the side. He reached inside and fumbled against the wall until a loud snap signaled the lights to life. They clicked on rapidly, lighting overhead fluorescents snapping on in a quick pattern that lit the small wooden berths in the long cow shed. As they stepped inside, the man walked briskly, and John tried to follow as his curious eyes also tried to take in what lay inside each of the berths. Most were people, confused and naked as they sat in the straw, but some were full of objects or money or precious items. The worst were the shadowy stalls that held things with red eyes and furtive breaths. The huddled in the darkness and looked at him as he went past. Their eyes held no recognizable emotion except hate.
After a minute of quick walking, they came to a stop.
The man extended his hand towards a closed stall.
"This is it. Hurry up, he's waiting for you."
John was a few steps behind him, the berth next to this one holding a smashed in Mercedes. When he heard the man speak, his voice echoing in this strangely quiet place, John shivered a little. He didn't want to disturb the things here, many of which were rather disturbing on their own. John didn't want to know what might happen if they suddenly decided to leave their stalls and come out where they could get at him.
As he came up to the gate of his berth, he could see a small, naked boy of about ten who was sitting on the floor with his knees hugged up to his chest. A head of sandy blond hair was visible between those knees, and John felt his breath stick in his chest. The hair was soft, baby fine, and looked thick and recently washed. It piled artlessly on top of the small head, just as Malcomn's always had, and John felt the tears slide down his face as he remembered how it had poked out underneath his baseball cap when he pulled it down to get it out of his face.
Then the boy looked up with those too green eyes, and John saw Malcolm smile at him from the straw strewn floor.
"Daddy?"
The boy asked it as though he didn't dare quite believe it.
It was too much.
John felt his knees unhinge, and suddenly he was falling into darkness as the naked boy rose from the floor and came to peek at him through the stall door.
The last thing he saw before blacking out was those too green eyes as they bore into him.
He came awake with those eyes staring at him.
Someone had put him in a bed. The sheets were soft and the pillowy luxurious, but the blanket was like sandpaper as it lay atop him. The boy perched on his chest was digging it into him painfully, and as he woke up, the boy smiled and crawled to snuggle with him under the blanket. He wrapped his small arms around him and seemed to notice the uncomfortable fabric not at all. John felt the comfortable press of his sons as he lay beside him. How many days had he woken up just this way? Malcolm pressed between him and his wife as they slept together, his warmth comfortable against John's back as he wormed in between them. John wrapped his own arms around him and breathed in the scent of fabric softener, the off-brand shampoo his wife bought for them, and warm grass that always seemed to hang around Malcolm.
John opened his eyes.
He expected to wake up in his own bed, the dream evaporating around him, but Malcolm was still there.
The door opened then. The man from behind the counter walked in, his hard boots knocking on the wooden floor, and he smiled his too-wide smile at John.
"You're awake," he stated.
John sat up and put a protective arm around his son. The boy was dressed in a pair of overalls, a blue shirt beneath, and John saw that he was still wearing the clothes he had arrived in. The room was spartan, a bed and an end table being its only elements, and as the smiling man towered over them, John began to feel self-conscious. He slid out of bed, Malcolm still clinging to him, and faced the man.
"How is it that you came to have my son?"
The man shrugged, "The Farm knows what people want, it knows what people need. One day I was sweeping up, and there he was, just sittin there. He looked up with those big green eyes and asked where his daddy was, and I just knew that sooner or later you'd come looking."
John ruffled Malcomn's hair, "I'm glad I did. It seemed like everything lately was trying to bring me here."
"Are you hungry?" the smiling man asked suddenly, "Margarette, my wife, just about has lunch ready, and she'd be tickled pink if you'd join us."
John looked down into Malcomn's deep green eyes and smiled, "Sure, why not?"
They spent the rest of the day together. After lunch, Thomas took them down to feed day-old bread to the ducks in his little pond. Thomas, the smiling man, had finally introduced himself, and as he and his wife, a smiling plump woman of middle age, had fed them from their table, John couldn't take his eyes off Malcolm. The boy dug into the meal just as his boy always had like it might be the last he'd ever have, and when Margarette offered them each a piece of the pie, the boy's eyes lit up with excitement. How many birthdays had John seen that same expression cross his face as the cake came out? Malcolm caught John staring and smiled shyly at him as Margarette added a big scoop of ice cream to go with it.
After the ducks, Malcolm noticed a playground on the town commons. He drug John to it, a small clearing with wooden climbing courses and metal antiques that spun and bobbled, and as John sat and watched, other kids came over to play with Malcolm in that easy way that children often do. Watching Malcolm play, running during tag or jumping and loping during their games of make-believe, filled John with a curious mixture of hope and dread. He hoped this would never end, he hoped he had crashed his car on the way to the farm and that this was heaven, and that he could simply sit here and watch his boy play for the rest of his days. At the same time, he dreaded when this would all end, and his sadness would creep back in as the delusion or dream or whatever this was ended.
"It's best not to think too hard about it, pal."
John jumped. Thomas had seated himself next to him, the stretched skin on his mouth still fashioned into that rictus of a smile that, up close, seemed almost painful. Why did he smile like that if the act clearly hurt him? He tried to find his words, but in the face of that painful smile, they all seemed to muddy in his mind.
"To think about what?" he finally ejaculated.
"How he can be or how he came to be here. He is here, he's your son, and its best not to think about it."
John watched him as though he thought he might vanish if he looked away.
"We can make a place for you here." Thomas continued, "A place for you and Malcolm. You can be a part of this community and know the blessing of the Bright as we all do."
John snapped his gaze back to Thomas, "I'm sorry, what are you talking about?"
Thomas put his old worn hands on his knees and grinned, "Well, you're here now. We have to find the two of you a place here in the community."
"Why would I do that?" John asked, genuinely perplexed.
The smile turned confused, "Well, you can't leave. The two of you have to stay."
John felt himself growing angry but tried to keep it in check.
This man had given him an irreplaceable gift, and it wouldn't be good manners to shout at him.
"Are you...are you trying to tell me that we can't leave?" he asked through gritted teeth.
Thomas shrugged, "Of course not, you're free to leave at any time. But Malcolm, he is of the Bright. You can't take him away from here; it would be cruel to do so."
Malcolm ran up about that time, his smiling face flushed with exertion.
"Daddy, some of the kids want to know if we'll attend service with them this evening. Can we go? It sounds fun."
John collected Malcolm into his arms then and stood towering over the smiling Thomas.
"No, son, I think it's time we left. Your mother will never believe it when I show you to her." but just the thought of sharing Malcolm made John feel strange.
Thomas seemed unperturbed by John, "I wouldn't do that friend. It never ends well."
"Just leave us alone," John said, backing away, "all of you just...leave us alone."
He was running by the time he made the parking lot; Malcolm's familiar weight born easily.
John's car was conspicuously absent. He had thought it was some kind of illusion, the tan-colored car would appear when he got a little closer, but now he saw that even the ruts he had left in the dirt lot were gone. The car was missing, and he was left with few options for escape. He turned towards the road and saw the quaint wooden gate rising in the distance. It could have been fifty feet, it could have been fifty miles, John didn't care.
As the sunset at his back, he began to walk towards the gate.
"Daddy, don't, I feel sick," Malcolm whined.
John ignored him, clinging to him as he jogged for the gate. He could flag down a car once they made the road. This was a busy road, after all, and a passing trucker or traveler would take them back to the city. They could be home by bedtime, and Malcolm could sleep in his bed beneath the watchful eyes of his baseball poster and his Starwars ships that hung from the ceiling by fishing line.
"Daddy?" Malcolm's voice sounded hoarse.
The dirt puffed under his feet as he jogged. With every step, he expected a torch-bearing mob to rise up to block his path. They wouldn't want him to take this miracle child from them, something that should not exist, and they would fight to stop him from leaving. He would fight them. They would kill him, but he would fight them. He would die, but his last image would be of Malcolm as he…
"Stop, I feel sick, Daddy. I don't want to leave. I want to...I want to…"
Malcolm became dead in his arms as he jogged. The stile came up before him, and he hefted the child in his arms as he ran. Malcolm was heavy, his skin clammy, something like sweat or tears dampening John's shirt as he ran. He was suddenly fearful, what if they had poisoned him? What if they had done something to Malcolm so he couldn't leave?
He finally looked down at his precious son and screamed into what had once been his face.
John found he was holding something more akin to a lump of clay. In his arms like a child's approximation of a person. The arms were thick and lumpy, the body little more than a badly formed torso of androgynous humps, and the head was malformed, its eyes and mouth little more than scooped out holes, with tufts of hair shoved hastily into the muck. When it turned its face to him and spoke, the voice of Malcolm rasped out, and John felt that he must surely be going mad.
He fell to his knees, the gate within arms reach, and wept into the bulbous chest of the Malcolm thing. This was unbearable. To lose his son again, and in such a way as this, was unthinkable. He couldn't recover from this. If this really was some dream, then this would be the part where he woke up screaming into his pillow. Things like this didn't happen under the eye of a loving God. There was only so much pain that a man could take before he broke completely.
He knelt in the dirt and sobbed into the mushy chest of his twice lost son, praying for insanity.
Praying for an end to understanding.
It was dark when Thomas found him.
John didn't shudder or even acknowledge him when he put a hand on his shoulder.
He looked up to him, and in the moonlight, his smile looked ghoulish.
"Why?" John croaked, his face awash with the muddy flesh of his still croaking boy, "why?"
Thomas only shook his grinning head, "I tried to tell you, friend. The gifts of Bright Farm are only for those who have accepted the Bright. The miracles experienced here are not for the outside world. If you want to stay with Malcolm, then you have to stay near the Bright."
John turned back to the odd boy thing.
He stared at it for a long time.
"If I accept this Bright, my son will be returned to me?"
"As he was before," Thomas assured.
John looked away, and in the moonlight, his martyr's mask was ghastly with the mush of his son's chest.
"Show me."
Thomas took him by the hand.
He led John towards the chapel that lay behind the cowshed. Inside, a sun seemed to shine only for those within. As they approached, John could feel it baking him and felt the warmth fill him. He felt his fear, his anger, his sadness, and all his doubt burned from him. Someone by the wooden doors took the boy shape from him, and at that moment, he barely noticed. He had discovered something new, something old.
As the doors were opened and the baking Bright shone over him, he felt his lips pulled into a painful smile.
The Bright was all he ever needed.
The thing he wanted but never knew.
He was burned anew by the Bright, and it was good.
The van pulled up in the dirt parking lot of the little community. The ramp came down, and the sandy-haired woman rolled her wheelchair onto the metal slab. As it descended, she began looking at the gawking faces that had gathered to see her decent. She had been wheelchair-bound since the accident, but she refused to let it stop her. Even if she'd had to crawl, she wouldn't have let it stop her from finding John.
For six months, she'd recovered in the hospital alone.
For six months, he had ignored her phone calls.
When the bank had called to let her know that her mortgage hasn't been paid in six months, she was worried.
When the police called to tell her that her husband's car had been found, abandoned, on the stretch of road leading up to this place, she had been terrified.
When her friend, Lisa, had seen him at the farmers market selling quilts and homegrown vegetables, however, she had been furious.
He had abandoned their old life to go find himself in the country, leaving her in the ICU to fight for her life and worry about him as he slid into silence.
She meant to find him and make him answer for his absence.
The wheels of her chair didn't much care for the dirt paths that led up to the two-story houses that seemed to be the living quarters for this little community. The man on the phone had told her that John lived in the house closest to the playground, and as she rolled towards the playground, she felt her arms grow stiff and non-compliant. She sat in the dirt road and gawked at the perfect, sandy-haired boy that was now standing atop the play structure and laughing with the other overall-clad children.
Malcolm.
It was Malcolm.
He looked at her then, and she saw recognition dawn on his face. He jumped from the structure, landing in that way that only children and drunks seem able, and ran to her with guileless joy. He buried his face against her chest, rubbing his soft hair against her, and fixed her with those deep green eyes that had enchanted her since his birth. It was him, in the flesh, and as he hugged her, she could no more summon the strength to hug him back than she could have summoned the strength to strangle him to death.
"Mommy, mommy, I missed you."
She saw a man rise from the bench, and through his tangled beard, she could see that it was John. He was smiling, his face a rictus of pleasured pain. His mouth smiled, but as she saw his eyes, she felt a stab of pain rip through her heart. His eyes were pinched, screaming, and as he approached, he seemed to be begging her to run. He bent to hug her, melding against his son easily as the two embraced her like some lost relation who came back again.
"How...how is this possible, John?"
He smiled at her with his painful grin.
"Come to the Barn, Claire. All things can be found if you're willing to see the light."
submitted by Erutious to u/Erutious [link] [comments]


2020.07.09 19:40 consultingeyedraven Investment Banking recruiting: a Primer

Hey all, I know that there are many admits gearing up for the fall amiss the chaos of the pandemic. I remember that in the summer before I started, I knew I wanted to get into IB, but the world of finance was very confusing to me. I thought I'd do a write-up (borrowing from some of my past comments) detailing some things that I wish I'd known. At the end I'll also write-up how I think recruiting will go this year given the large shift to online-only.
Please feel free to Ask Me Anything in the comments
A bit about me:
1) What jobs do banks recruit for at the MBA Level?
Each of these functions is viewed as different from each other by the finance community and are their own division within the bank. While some banks will have one or two massive recruiting events that include all these divisions, you would need to specifically recruit for one area or another. For example, Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Goldman Sachs Investment Banking Division ("IBD") each have their own recruiting events and applications.
This post will (obviously) focus on IB.
2) What position do MBA's place into?
Edit to add comp info and hours:
MBA Associate Compensation:
MBA Summer Associate Hours:
3) What are the major difference between the banks?
Banks can be sorted into roughly 4 categories:
/financialcareers has a good outline here
You will find that cultural differences actually appear between groups at the larger bulge brackets. Most other firms are so small that a singular culture tends to pervade through the entire firm.
For BB recruiting, most have now switched to direct-placement into coverage or product groups. I talk a bit about this below, but during recruiting you specify your preferred groups (e.g. Healthcare, TMT, M&A, etc). The job of coverage is to pitch clients in a certain industry on new deals and bring expertise and work with the product group to execute the transaction.
Some groups are obviously harder to get into than others (e.g. GS TMT). Each bank will specify the groups they are recruiting for during recruiting. For the larger BBs, this is usually "all of them". Most MBAs go to coverage groups where they focus solely on that industry, but gain experience across sub-verticals (e.g. Financial Institutions Group (FIG) has insurance, asset managers, fintech, etc). Once you move up to VP and beyond you will begin to specialize into a sub-vertical. It is possible, but not that easy, to switch groups once you are fulltime, so your story of "why this group" becomes very important and prior industry experience will be an asset.
Most EBs (and Morgan Stanley save for 2 groups), on the other hand, run a generalist model. Meaning that you will work across industries. This also applies to Middle Market firms.
Finally, banks differ based on "touch" - or how much interaction they demand through recruiting. Some require 10+ coffee chats, others only talk to you once. You will find out through your Investment Banking Club which is which.
4) What is IB Recruiting like
Disclaimer 1: This is for CBS, but I'm sure most of the T15 is similar.
Disclaimer 2: I've copied an old write-up I answered someone with a while ago. Work smarter, not harder amirite?
Schedule
Succeeding in Recruiting
FYI, Steps 1-3 all happen over the informational interview period pre-interviews.
Step 1: Making the Cut
The difference, I would say, is being able to make an impression in some way on the alumni teams (your school's alumni manage the entire process btw, they WANT you to succeed) and the groups you are recruiting for. Every BB that has immediate group placement has switched to group-led recruitment. This means you are going to need to build relationships within a specific group at the bank. They need to feel like this person could close deals and bring in revenue as an MD, because they are hiring their next generation of officers. That doesn't mean back slapping boys club (though there is certainly a spectrum), it means that this person is technically sound and can be put in front of a client. It also means that you have demonstrated interest in the group, which is shown by being able to speak intelligently about recent deals involving their group at a high level (e.g. what are the synergies, what were the high points of the deal, etc).
Step 2: Standing out
But how do you make it happen? Well, here is another differentiator - finding an advocate. Before offering interviews, then again after interviews, the alumni teams will round table each candidate. You need someone to be your champion in that room, and that only comes through building a good relationship over the entire fall. You look like a million other candidates with similar backgrounds and abilities - somehow you need to stand out.
Step 3: Do you love me?
Steps 1 and 2 are making it so they want to give you the offer. However, the story does not end there. The reality is that these alumni teams only have so many offers to give and spots to fill. If they get turned down, it does not look good. This means that your connection will pull you aside before 1st round interviews and try to feel out whether you would accept an offer (disclaimer: this is a part of the process I fell down on). They will ask about what other banks you are considering, whether you are only focused on their group type (e.g. poweNR), whether you are making a distinction between BB and EB, and you may even get a 'soft' offer (even a verbal 'hard' offer is considered binding by CBS). A soft offer is "We really think you fit in well, where are you on us? Would you be ready to accept an offer?". If you play this wrong - as I did, you can lose months of work. You can lie, sure, but IB world is a small place, and I personally didn't want to do that. This is not a black or white - some people will get offers regardless - but it can really affect your standing with the alumni team if they think you might turn them down.
Step 4: Don't F&$% up the technicals
You've spent all fall making the team love you, you've got your first round interview. You step in and get hit with a merger math question right away, and you stammer and screw it up. Now you're no longer confident, so you screw up the details of a deal you've been following, and maybe get twisted by an even easier accounting question. Boom, in 20 minutes, 3 months of work down the drain. Don't do that - be lights out on technicals. If you nail the first one, the interviewer actually starts going easier on you because it's a hurdle, not a high score.
Step 5: Don't forget the soft answers!
Many never take the time to really think through anything more than their 30 second pitch. I really recommend everyone think through strengths and weaknesses and supporting stories to have ready to go. This is critically important because you can guarantee you will get asked this.
5) Can I get to IB from any Top 15 school?
Short answer: Yes.
Longer answer: It depends
You cannot (easily) get to any firm from any top 15 school. Leaving H/S to the side, there are 4 schools which have, in my opinion, materially better recruiting opportunities than anywhere else: Wharton, Booth, CBS and NYU; Tuck is also in the conversation. These schools will make up basically half of every intern class on the street. They also get access to smaller firms that only run OCR at specific schools (e.g. Qatalyst, Centerview and Raine). These schools get more intern slots and, in my anecdotal experience, have better FT offer outcomes (due to the many alumni pulling for interns to get FT offers). So while yes, you can certainly get into a firm like Citi from any T15, you would struggle to get a Centerview interview. Now, the other huge caveat is that even at Booth or Wharton, you need to be a top candidate (personable, know about the market, rock solid technically) to get a Centerview interview.
6) How should I prepare for recruiting?
The best thing you can possibly do right now is READ. Get a student sub to WSJ and read it every day. Understand the market. Figure out what industries you like and try to find deals being done in those industries and then understand why those deals are being done (hint: go to the company investor relations page and download the investor presentation on the deal, it literally spells out the reasons they did it). This is all so you can speak intelligently about the high level concepts in coffee chats and think strategically.
Many people may begin studying technical questions, but I feel that this is a mistake. You will not get (really) grilled on techs until the winter, so I think your time is far better spent now on understanding the current state of the world and market.
7) How will recruiting be different in 2020
The obvious difference will be that recruiting will be completely online. This means far less opportunities to take advantage of human interaction and getting to know the "culture" of firms. I would make sure, in your coffee chats, to compensate for this by asking more about the person you are speaking with, as opposed to the firm itself. Really focus on building the personal connections, because you wont have the opportunity to do it over drinks or dinner. Other than that though, it will be largely similar - coffee chats will happen, firmwide presentations will happen. I think invite-onlys will be replaced by more zoom coffee chats.
I'll leave it there for now - feel free to ask any questions or correct me if you feel like I've got something wrong
submitted by consultingeyedraven to MBA [link] [comments]


2020.07.05 08:46 KaunJamaatHo Legend of Suheldev [Review]

Amazon link. The book is set in the early eleventh century, India is deeply divided primarily on caste lines and the Turks are intent on looting and plundering her wealth. They found the North to be vulnerable because the ideas of Buddhism and non-violence were spreading and being Buddhists themselves before converting to Islam, they did not expect much resistance.
When the Turks launched an attack, they did not refrain from attacking at nights or using cows as a shield. Such tactics made them extremely dishonorable, they blatantly violated the laws of war and so, they largely had the upper hand even against the strongest of Kings who fought with honor. They weren't just satisfied with the looting, they also did everything they could do crush the spirits of the kaafirs by shattering the idols of the Gods revered by most people. They also strategically aligned with Indian rulers, not as partners but by putting them under their heels.
Suheldev became the crown prince of Shravasti after his older brother, Malladev, lost his life in Somnath fighting the Turks. The story is about Suheldev mounting a resistance on the Turks by uniting the people around the idea of protecting Mother India from foreign invasion even at the cost of his own honor. He wasn't born a Kshatriya, so, he realized the caste based discrimination as well as mistrust for people who shared the same religion or ethnicity with the Turks. He fights as a bandit while uniting diverse people as long as they were devoted to protecting the motherland.
Although, I breezed through the book and it's fairly gripping, it lacks complexity in characters and the ideas are not so counter-intuitive. The events are often predictable. It feels like the author is presenting his ideas on contemporary issues in a medieval setting. The book seems corny at times, more wishful than grounded in reality. However, I do like the ideas presented in the book, the arguments for religion vs nation or fighting vs being pacifist and it also makes me want to learn more about the individuals or dynasties that were part of the book. I think people would enjoy reading the book but I'll refrain from recommending it too strongly.
submitted by KaunJamaatHo to IndiansRead [link] [comments]


2020.06.12 19:51 curtisbrownturtis Killed Our Father LYRICS

Yeah,
Lately I've been looking at my arms like, why am I worn/warm?
I've been so tore/torn inside with world without a mental,
Dealing with warrants from foreigners, how is this shit yours?
It's all stolen property, poverty block--monopolies,
Cops watching me, cool,
This shit cold, they trapped a soul/us all when they locked us in school,
You see it's lockers in school, a plot for they rules,
No mocking they rulers, coppin' they rulers,
This enemies that they send to me to beat us,
It's a wrap/rap for our people, a gyro actually,
What's goes around will come around, a spiral factory,
The globe used to be black, you see no vitiligo,
I go back to them cracking times, it all came from Cairo practically/chiropractically,
Sit/set up straight, they landed on our land,
The man sat/said/set up, wait, we are dinner on they skyscraper,
God, wait for the update, lick your femuFEMA bone,
Man made storm, then offer us FEMA, wrong,
Up the fear, adrenaline boost, juice your adrenachome--
Harvest, they got us in jar, right Jarvis?
No decision, with this machine man, we need a vision,
Our niggas is stone(d), they pitch/pics you the whole/hole
Wrong Earth circumferences twist, I jump in this,
Go nuts with the/this shell hell, this homunculus,
It's most screens, living this low dream,
Feed us protein, dream bait us,
Dean waiting to cremate 'em,
Turn us top ramen, then sit in church and scream "Amen"/ah, men,
These niggas seem Amish, I got it,
I question if God is involved, what made us evolve?
Look at the word 'evolve', it starts off with 'evol',
Is it wrong to be smart?
Well they don't tell you that part in the Bible,
But the Ark in the Bible,
You see the Bible is the arc for every archer arrow,
Aim for the heart, without a departure,
Away/way we marching, ancient stories get stolen,
These ain't our partners,
These apartments is designed to break apart men,
Fill our house with department store items,
Vitamin blocking, we invite 'em in,
Call it your prophet/profit,
The living room is designed to kill you,
Sit on the couch, ouch,
The TV plot, for TV shots, distractions,
We see the action, but lacking our drive,
They tapped in our minds, with tap water to slaughter us,
Our phones' tapped, water tapped, mind/mine tapped,
They trapped the black mans in,
But we don't notice, it's too many niggas tap dancing,
We jump around and get stuck in they sound,
These megahertz is what mega-hurt us,
It mega hurts/megahertz, this frequency:
Lowered; the slower get pushed by the mass media,
Punk niggas with an attitude, its gratitude,
Tipping the surface, but it was Ruthless how they got us,
We missing a purpose, we follow they leaders,
They swallow our leaders/litres,
They measure men with they measurements,
Feel they rulers, turn to scuba divers,
Tank in/tanking our back, squeezing our oxygen,
They chop our men with Amoxicillin,
Chopping the ceiling, speak on slavery in the majors,
Say we hop in our feelings, nothing major,
They offer us wagers, minimum ages is fifteen,
Making six dollars an hour, they draining/drain in our powers,
Ego/eco down the drain, when we stay in the shower,
Fluoride straight to the eye, your mind take the disguise/da skies:
HAARP, this how they get the mass,
Think fast, we don't think for ourselves 'cause we selfish,
We fight for a Grammy, we stuck in they grammar,
Fucked 'cause my grandma got stuck in they manners,
Monetized scammers, is the ambulance paid for they ride?
If I knew the bill was gon' be this much, I can't wait 'til I die,
I'm broke as fuck, and you hope that I pay attention,
All these deaths/deafs around me, how can I just stay and listen?
I am here but I don't hear with evil,
To keep it real, I don't feel this equal,
We want a meal/mil/ but we a meal/mill to people,
I must reveal this shit ain't real, this is apocalypse,
The age of Aquarius is the scariest, they stopped this shit/shift,
Danishes tarnish our blinking, garnish our thinking,
Feed us glucose, niggas too close,
They promised us hope but they got no hope for us,
We po' because the Pope got us roped in a circle,
Niggas voting, and Trump know he a puppet, so fuck it,
He don't give a fuck because he know this whole shit is a game,
You see this part?
Those who above Trump eating our hearts,
Of all ouare minors/miners, we got minor problems,
But never mind us, they mining the mountains,
Fountain of youth is the boost/booth with the crystals,
Amethyst granite, Assyrians scan the planet,
Damage youdamager nature, planet tree-scaping,
This is terraform/terror form, prepare for war,
Annunakis got me in the system,
This amazing/a maze then, fuck it,
I'm amazing/amazed at how we still living in a maze,
And we still sing Amazing Grace,
When them niggas came from space,
No trace of their origins,
They storage your melanin, cargo,
Argue, for what? I don't trust this religion,
The fuck is this image of Anakin?
Man I'm panicking, Skywalkers with God offers,
Like "why would God off us?"
Who got us in offices, did y'all forget?
The bosses never lost a gift,
They owning the presence/presents strangers with Santa Claus,
Made us feel like they kind/can do good for the world,
Like God damnit dog,
They made us think Columbus was humble and nice,
The youngest advice,
My life evolving with Christ, as long/strong as Roman Catholics,
Baptists and Christians, diss the Christians,
Give us Christmas, tell us turn in our wishlist,
Leave us wishless, no genies are left,
You see we the best to survive in this trap,
I've been attacked in the Astroplane,
Niggas ask your name in capitals, letters,
Who let 'em in my mind?
I grind for my letter man/Letterman,
I paid my dues for it, and now I think about it,
Shit, I had to pay the school for it,
They charge me for my P.E. clothes,
If I ain't have it, then they say that I'm beneath these codes,
They're addressing/a dressing us all,
Got the girls closed/clothes minded,
Tie into Prom to remind us that weddings are coming,
Financially lock us with rings to align us,
Do that ring a bell? Hell,
Who selling rings? Before the ring you celibate/sell a bit,
Who tell us that sex should come after our marriage?
Who told us that marriage was heritage?
Harriott Tubman put slugs in her husband,
Man down, for man to be free,
See it's two types of rings,
One bustin'/bussing and one for busta'/bus, t', Rose Parks status,
That is the way that they trap us with trust,
Today the kids loving the back of the bus,
All that shit is for nothing,
Just some fussing, we lusting/lusted/lust it and fall,
Like fuck a bus ride, bitch, we should bust at them all,
I'm sick of being nice though,
Every night I gotta deal with these bright folks,
Insurance sold by the lizard man, scammed us with Geico,
When they the one who crashing our pockets with sales/sails,
Into our atmosphere, then they tell us it's rockets with trails,
Did y'all forget the Stargate show?
We too gazing at stars, and they glazing us,
Those who come around/a round sweet,
The one who paying us, we buy these jewels,
We buy these/body shoes, making mighty moves,
A strong rat, but still end up a feast to these Chinese dudes,
The shiny objects stopping us, fuck, we go shopping,
Hop in attire, fuck I'm tired, we copping they tires/tired,
Never had the will/wheel, but stay still when them coppers come fire,
We pumping our brakes when they dump in our face,
And scream/screen that we can't take this shit,
I hate this shit,
If it's one of our niggas, we gon' break this shit,
Ain't this sick, how we kill ourselves,
But don't fight with the system?
This a tragedy, walking,
Laws are made to be broken,
Soak in this info if you Loki/low key, you C.R.I.P.,
You should be attacking them, this acronym,
Community Revolution Still in/steel in Progress,
Unidentified objects.
submitted by curtisbrownturtis to DayLytLyrics [link] [comments]


2020.06.12 04:33 cartooncharger 23 [F4M] Kansas City, MO/KS! New to the city and looking for friends and possibly more.

Hi Jeans!
sorry if format sucks, did this on cell
The title says Kansas City but I’m still living in the Chicago suburbs. However, I’m moving in a month to the city! I’m going there for college - I’m going to finish my BA and would like to continue on to a Master’s afterwards. As mentioned, I’m mainly looking for friends since I’ll be new to the city and will need time to adjust before trying for anything serious.
Alright, you know I’m going to school and I’m originally from Chicagoland but what else is there? What am I like? What are my interests?
Well, I’m happy you asked, here are some bullet points about my personality: • caring, thoughtful • goofy, funny (I make myself laugh a lot) • psychically affectionate • calm (unless I’m driving) • quiet but talkative (depends on the person/situation) • good communicator, honest • loves chocolate
Here’s a longer list of interests: • walking, hiking • camping (new at it and not really experienced) • long drives, road trips • traveling (everywhere and anywhere) • learning about weird fetishes/lifestyles • weird obsession with the Amish, morbidly obese (think 500+ pounds), and being naked • working out (honestly it’s on and off) • would like to learn how to cook • concerts, live music • true crime • horror movies, Halloween, haunted houses • loves chocolate
Now that you know a little about me, let me describe myself physically: • 5’5 • 140ish pounds (little cubby) • dark brown, medium length hair • brown eyes, wears glasses • white but olive skin tone • 5 tattoos (3/leg, 1/foot, 1/side of torso) I am willing to send a photo of myself but it’d be great if you sent one too.
What am I looking for in a friend/partner? Obviously if you eventually want to be more than friends you need to be CF but I’m pretty sure that’s obvious lol Besides that I would prefer someone who’s: • outdoorsy, likes hikes and camping too • goofy • somewhat healthy, at least care about your health • independent, resourceful • themselves (please don’t try and act like someone you’re not) • honest, communicative I try not to ask a lot from someone else but I think it is important to have similar key values (like honesty). Just be yourself 🙂
Oh, and lastly, I don’t like people who smoke (cigarettes). I don’t care if someone smokes the devils lettuce but if that’s your whole personality then I’m not down for it either. I do drink but not really to excess. So... everything in moderation, I guess?
Anyways, thank you for reading!
submitted by cartooncharger to cf4cf [link] [comments]


2020.06.01 22:12 sockydapuppet [S] TOC 2.2: Palau (COMPLETE)

For the first time, we have 20 players in a season! It’s another season full of fighting from the bottom and cutthroat strategy. Who will be next to earn their spot in the championship? 8 seasons, 109 castaways, and only one CHAMPION!
[Ancient Voices plays as the tribes are revealed.]
The Cast:
Alyssa Hantz, 28, Oil Tanker Crewsperson; u/FirstBoot87
Antonio Romani, 40, Restaurant Owner; u/SilverOwl24
Benny Baxter, 31, Construction Worker; u/HINoobs3333
Brock Johnson, 35, Lawyer; u/Pray_The_Gay_To_Come
Chris Simmons, 35, Estate Agent; u/HINoobs3333
Dakota Holms, 24, Horror Novelist; u/beetleblues02
Dana Morgan, 25, Graphic Designer; u/Nahuelfire39
Darrius Carruthers, 35, Musician; u/AlmightyOZ99
Harlow Smith, 22, Fitness Instructor; u/blxxdymxry
Ian Descartes, 22, Student; u/FineGuidance0
Imaan Campbell, 22, Model; u/blxxdymxry
Jemma Amish, 26, FIFO Worker; u/FirstBoot87
Lane “Gentleman” Pickett, 30, Stripper; u/Nahuelfire39
Mary “Mickey-J” James, 18, Youtuber; u/AlmightyOZ99
Matilda Grunty, 60, Dog Salon Owner; u/AlmightyOZ99
Nachos Greene, 39, Lawyer; u/HINoobs3333
Skye Wilkerson, 20, Student; u/blxxdymxry
Victoria “Vic” Davis, 24, Journalist; u/Pray_The_Gay_To_Come
Vince Santiago, 55, Retired Detective; u/SilverOwl24
Wendy Vega, 22, Student; u/SilverOwl24
The season:
  1. Vince and Matilda miss out on getting selected, meaning they will return next season as consolation. Koror wins immunity first. We have two trios and three outsiders at Ulong. The outsiders become swing votes but decide to take out one of their own in Lane.
  2. Koror wins again, but their four person minority alliance officially disbands. The outsiders voted with Harlow, Mickey-J, and Vic last time. Will they do it again? Wendy casts a stray vote for Vic, but Benny seals the deal for Dakota to go home 4-3-1.
  3. Koror takes their third immunity challenge in a row, putting Brock and Jemma in danger. Brock is the first one to go, forcing Jemma to hope for a winning streak.
  4. Jemma rallies Ulong to win their second of three reward challenges, but they fall just short when seeking immunity. She scoops up Vic shortly after she left the majority alliance to play her own game. Benny avoids a big blindside and joins forces with those two to force a tie vote. All parties stay strong, and a rock draw outs Harlow. This could be a turning point for this tribe.
  5. Both tribes are forced to go to tribal. Koror will likely just pick off someone in the minority. It’ll be interesting for Ulong, however, to see if the lines drawn last week are still there. Darrius is the unfortunate member of the Koror minority. At Ulong, the outsiders have taken over. After receiving a million votes, Mickey-J is finally sent home, leaving Jemma on the wrong side once again. She can’t win!
  6. This season is managing to play out very similar to the original Palau so far. Koror wins again. Jemma needs to play it cool and get back with Benny and Vic. An initial tie vote sees Vic flip to take out Wendy. These outsiders need to find a way to start winning some challenges.
  7. You already know who won immunity. In other news, the majority at Koror dissolves, leaving no alliances. That could be great luck for anyone on Ulong that can survive long enough for the dissolve. It turns out surviving might be harder than it looks. This is a pretty even trio. It could go either way. Jemma works her magic again to avoid having her name written down. Benny goes home 2-1.
  8. I swear I didn’t plan this, you guys. Koror wins immunity. Wow. Jemma had a great game going, but she couldn’t win a challenge for her life. Vic’s going to need to find a way to survive at Koror now.
  9. It’s dissolve time. I’d imagine that Vic needs to win immunity here to stay in the game. She can’t! Imaan takes immunity, as Ulong is fully eliminated from this game of Survivor extremely decisively.
  10. Koror finally has to turn on each other. Now things should be exciting. Imaan is 2/2 in immunity challenges, looking very strong. This is kind of like the premerge, where the tribe will jump on any excuse to eliminate you. Nachos wasn’t the greatest around camp, so they took him out.
  11. Skye wins immunity, leaving Imaan open as a target. It doesn’t matter, though, as Chris is medically evacuated.
  12. Alyssa wins immunity! There’s still no alliances, as Imaan rallies to take out Ian. He gets sent home unanimously, leaving us with anyone’s game in the final five!
  13. Imaan takes immunity once again! It’s hard to predict where the votes will lie, but the girls seem pretty close right now. Dana turns on her friend Alyssa, to take her out of the game! It’s an exciting 3-2 vote to blindside Alyssa and Skye.
  14. Skye is on thin ice at this point. She knows she needs immunity. Dana wins immunity in a very close challenge! This causes Imaan to become upset with Dana. They manage to stick to the plan, however, and eliminate Skye.
  15. What a time to win your first immunity challenge! Antonio gets it done and secures the right to pick his final two partner! He decides to vote out Dana. We’ll see if it pays off.
Reunion: She falls just one vote short of our second perfect game in a row. Imaan gets the clean sweep in jury votes, punching her ticket to the championship! She was definitely a puppet master of this season.
Returnees: In first and second places and returning for the Championship: Imaan and Antonio.
Vote for your favorites from the season to return in the Redemption Round using this poll. Three castaways from every season along with the next three highest vote-getters will receive an opportunity for redemption.
submitted by sockydapuppet to BrantSteele [link] [comments]


2020.05.26 07:08 jes5166 Growing up the daughter of a baptist, ex nazi pastor

This is a long story and there is a lot more to it, but my entire life has been one big controlled Christian mess. From the time I was 3-15 my abusive father was a pastor at 2 different baptist churches. The baptist denomination is built on patriarchal belief systems, the women should shut up and submit to men, have lots of babies, and dress very modestly so man might ever look at her. My dad (lets call him Steve) was the most sexist man I have ever met in my life (I am now 18). He had a tumultuous youth to say the least, and he made sure everyone knew it. His dad was an alcoholic and his mother was an addict. Both of them would beat him and torment him, and he was eventually homeless for a time in his teenage years. During this time he became a satanist, a nazi, and a white supremacist. (He still sports a swastika tattoo!). One day he came to a Christian youth group with one of his believer friends, and that is where he met my mother. He applied immense pressure to her to get her to marry him, telling her to “piss or get off the pot” after six months of dating. Anyone baptist or Pentecostal knows that sex before marriage is considered an awful sin, so you can imagine my mother’s surprise when he attempted to sneakily rape her after she accepted his proposal. She was confused and made him stop but didn’t end the relationship. She married him when she was 19. Fast forward a few years and myself and my first younger sister had been born, when Steve made the decision to move across the country from Ontario to Edmonton to become a pastor at a tiny church there. This was the kind of baptist church where dresses down to the floor were expected for women and girls of all ages, and many strange rules were put into place. Women can only wear white underwear, long skirts and high necklines for women, wives must never look down during sex (only missionary position of course), and of course must be submissive and opinionless in all areas of life (notice how there are no rules for men!) my mother is a brilliant mechanical engineer with a great degree, and she couldn’t work. My father was so disappointed at this point in only having two daughters, that he manipulated and guilt tripped my mom into trying two more times to get a boy, which resulted in two more disappointing daughters. My whole life we were of no interest to him because we were girls, pathetic because we couldn’t pass on his family name, let alone be leaders or any kind of success. This was when simple neglect began to get concerning, I remember my sisters boot getting stuck in a mound of snow and her barefoot coming out of her boot, but when I went inside crying to get help, my parents didn’t believe me and didn’t care for far too long. My mom was becoming ridiculously depressed from this extremist lifestyle and church at least four times a week, and Steve couldn’t bear to give a shit about any of his four daughters. We grew up raising each other. Five years after we moved to Edmonton, Steve decided it was time to move again, this time back to Ontario to a small Amish community so he could pastor another baptist church there. Although this church was slightly less stifling, the rules for us as children only became more strict. I was told i couldn’t wear pants to be modest, and couldn’t wear a tank top because Steve has always been attracted to shoulders (creepy!). I have switched schools too many tines to count during all of this, and was always bullied (obviously) because of my family’s effects on me. It was around this time that I got baptized (at 13) just to try and get Steve’s attention. He didn’t care. Our whole family watched him parade around and be a saint on Sunday mornings, then come home and scream at all of us and be an absolute nightmare. He was the kind of parent you had to tiptoe around so you wouldn’t get spanked for no reason. Our parents rarely gave us money for anything, so after a long summer of dog walking I had enough money to buy myself an iPod touch. Little did I know I would t be allowed to text any boys, or have boys on any social media until I was 16 years old. But Steve would still barge into my shared bedroom and go through all of my messages, photos, and apps to ensure I had no false sense of privacy. He has always been fond of telling my mom and sisters and I how he “owns” all of us, “everything we ever have owned or ever will own is his”. Many ridiculous things happened within these next five years, but one vividly horrible memory I have is when my sister and I spent an entire summer afternoon searching every inch of our acre backyard for any twigs or fallen pine cones to pick up, before Steve had to mow the lawn. After he had finished he called us both downstairs, had us pull down our pants, and spanked us for so long that we screamed and balled our eyes out in front of each other. I was 13 and my sister was 10. It felt like a violation of our bodies, and we didn’t realize we had done anything that warranted that type of beating but apparently he had found one twig. The summer I turned fourteen, my second youngest sister was molested in our home by our visiting 16 year old cousin, on our dads side. She was six. This destroyed everyone in our family, and a few months later we moved once again. There had also been some problems within the church. We moved a few hours away and settled in a small city. Our second house there was where things began to get truly awful. Steve couldn’t find another pastoring job in the area, so he became the director of a small pro life “charity” (of course) near our home. He would tell us everyday how he just slept at his desk everyday, and how fitting that a man that sexist would become the director of a movement that I believe is very anti-woman. Steve would barely be sober for the next year. He would overdose on pain pills, sleeping meds, prescriptions, cold medicine, alcohol, anything to make him forget he was alive. This is where his extreme mental illness really began to rear its head. He would scream at my mom for hours on end right outside of their children’s rooms, then attempt to gaslight everyone and explain how he never yells and we just hate him and make things up in our head. He believes women exist to submit and serve him, so while he would lounge around and gain weight all day, we would cook and clean and serve him hand and foot while he barked orders and terrified all of us. This house we were living in was rotting, mouldy, and falling apart. It was a very dark time in my life. Some days he would be so high on anything that his genitals would be hanging out of his pants, and we had to train our eyes to never look down. I got my first job at a local grocery store, and he would charge me more than what I made in an hour, to drive me 10 minutes to my job. He was cruel, a liar, and embarrassing. My mom kicked him out for the first time and he stayed away for three days. When he came back nothing changed, but my moms Christian beliefs allowed him back in so she wouldn’t have to break her vows to god. He would yell and shout and slur his words everyday. We would fall asleep listening to him scream at my mom calling her a whore and a fucking liar and all sorts of other things. Keep in mind we weren’t allowed to say the word “stupid”. When I was almost 17 I got my first boyfriend (who I’ve been with now for over two years) and my father never stopped tormenting him. Because of course he believed I was his property so he couldn’t handle the threat of another man. The first time my partner came to our house, my father was sitting at our kitchen table with a shot gun. It wasn’t funny. He wouldn’t randomly come behind my bf and “jokingly” attempt to strangle him and tell him to escape to “prove” he could protect ME. We picked him up for church from his house on Easter Sunday, and Steve jumped out of our mini van with a nerf gun and started shooting at him! Also wasn’t funny just very awkward and cringe worthy for us all. Steve was the kind of man who could be set off on a moments notice, so we all avoided him. He would always do crazy unpredictable things, like dye what was left of his hair bright red “for cancer”, or have a huge vape fall out of his ratty hoodie pocket and then slur over his words and explain that he didn’t have a vape. I had gotten grounded from him before for not laughing at his joke. And once on my youngest sister’s 9th birthday, she was laughing too loud at dinner so he took the hat she was wearing on her head (a birthday gift?) and threw it in the trash. We moved into a newer house a year after that one, and nothing changed. Eventually he physically tried to drag my mother upstairs to bed by her wrists, after taking 8 too many prescription pain killers during dinner with her boss. And she called the police on him. One thing I may have not made clear is that Steve is a brilliant man. He is a brilliant manipulator and can sound professional and talk his way into or out of anything. He has a masters degree in theology. He talked his way out of his time with the police, and went to stay at a motel. It has been almost a year and a half since he was kicked out for good. Now we live at a new house with myself, my three sisters, and my mom. My two youngest sisters (now 12 and 13) still have to go visit him every other weekend, despite all the recent stunts he has pulled, and soon my parents will really be divorced. I feel like I really grew up in the darkest side of the Christian religious community, however I was the daughter of a pastor and it was this bad? I doubt it was random or coincidental. Yesterday my mom told me she doesn’t think she believes in Jesus anymore, which was surreal for me since she has always relied so heavily on her faith for everything. It was almost sad. We had a very interesting discussion about how the patriarchy really has its roots in Christianity. Anyway there was a lot I couldn’t include of course but I thought this might be an interesting place to share this story and I hope you found it well. (Ps: we’re all doing much better now without him, I haven’t talked to him in a year, and I am an artist moving to Toronto in the fall for school)
submitted by jes5166 to exchristian [link] [comments]


2020.05.15 18:13 Duke_Skygawker I need explanations for parts of Lovecraft Country (Minor Spoilers)

There’s a few things in Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country that seem to go unexplained. One thing in particular is the weird religious cult around the manor at Ardem (Ardam?). The Adamites, I believe they are called, seem to be a weird sex-cult version of Amish people, with a church that has stained glass windows depicting sex scenes from an alternate version of the Garden of Eden. To top it all off, the image of Eve looks like Rose (I hope I’m getting all the names right, I just read the book but I borrowed it out so I can’t reference it), a character whose importance never feels established. She even shows back up later, kept basically on life support by Caleb. Is the implication that she’s Caleb’s sex partner? Then, it’s briefly and somewhat confusingly implied that she’s starting to become a conscious part of Ruby after Ruby takes the potions for a while. Is that the case? The end of the book has another “Hillary” section that didn’t really confirm or deny this, even though Leticia clearly heard Hillary argue with herself as if there’s more than one voice in her head.
Great read. Absolute page-turner. But I felt like the ending was super rushed and a couple of details were just ignored or intentionally left vague.
submitted by Duke_Skygawker to books [link] [comments]


2020.05.14 00:24 RJ-Hamster Uneasy Partners: Christians and Politics

Uneasy Partners: Christians and Politics
📷
Philip Yancey
October 17, 2014
📷
The media often use “right-wing” as an adjective inseparably connected with evangelicals.
James Davison Hunter says, “It is possible to argue that at the same time the Christian Right acquired and exercised its greatest power — culminating in the 2004 presidential election — this movement also generated greater hostility toward the Christian faith than ever before in the nation’s history.” Hunter adds that evangelicals on the left follow a parallel course of political involvement, looking to government to enact the policies they hold dear.
How should Christians engage in a democracy that includes a diversity of beliefs and that grows increasingly post-Christian? And how do we live out convictions in a way that still conveys grace?
Christ and Culture
Jesus himself showed little concern for secular politics, calling Herod “that fox,” stonewalling Pontius Pilate with his lack of self defense, and leaving us with the enigmatic rule, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” The apostle Paul, in contrast, used the full privilege of Roman citizenship.
He confronted culture with the new message of Jesus while simultaneously showing respect for political authority.
He testified before imperial officials and at times relied on the Roman military to protect him from his religious enemies. When arrested, he appealed his case up the ladder of the Roman justice system, where he got a final hearing with a tragic end.
In short, the New Testament presents government as necessary, even ordained by God, but certainly no sponsor or friend to faith. Jesus, Paul, and most of the twelve disciples died as martyrs, after all, and the early Christians faced periodic waves of persecution from Roman emperors.
Two centuries later Christians viewed with thanksgiving and relief the conversion of the emperor Constantine, who granted Christianity protected status. Soon it became the official state religion. Over the next millennium in Europe, church and state interplayed like dancing partners, sometimes locked in tight embrace and sometimes flinging each other across the ballroom floor. The global spread of Christianity introduced new church/state variations in places like Africa and the Americas.
During the Eisenhower era of the 1950s, about the time “In God We Trust” was added to U.S. coins, theologian H. Richard Niebuhr published a book that became a classic. Christ and Culture describes five different approaches to how religion and government, or church and state, might relate to each other. Niebuhr called one approach “Christ above culture,” referring to times when the church wielded the real power. Europe’s Holy Roman Empire perfected this model: royalty kneeled before the pope, not vice versa. At the other end of the spectrum, Anabaptists and other splinter groups separated themselves from the surrounding culture; “Christ against culture,” Niebuhr labeled their approach. The dissenters’ refusal to take oaths, to doff their caps to authorities, and to serve in the army and on juries infuriated their governments, and as a result European countries cruelly persecuted them. North America served as a haven for many of these groups, including Quakers, Amish, Mennonites, and Hutterites.
John Calvin’s model, adopted by Puritans in America, calls for Christ to transform culture, bringing society in line with Christian values as far as possible. Around the same time, Lutherans developed a doctrine of Christ in paradox with culture. On earth we are subject to two kingdoms, said Martin Luther: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. (Of course, sometimes the government may ask Christians to do what goes against their convictions, bringing the two kingdoms into conflict: in Luther’s homeland many of Hitler’s soldiers used the excuse, “We were obeying the secular kingdom.”)
Finally, a fifth group identifies Christ with culture. This approach may take many forms, such as the ethnic groups (like Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats) who blend religion and culture. Niebuhr used the Social Gospel movement as an American example: as they work to reform society, these folks tend to absorb the culture around them, and in time the distinctives of their faith may disappear.
Reading Niebuhr’s book in my college days left me feeling enlightened but as confused as ever. All five approaches seemed to have something to contribute, and in fact I could point to biblical examples of each one, especially in the Old Testament.
Kings such as David and Solomon virtually combined church and state. Prophets often denounced the surrounding culture — yet even as the prophet Elijah was violently opposing Ahab’s regime, a “devout believer in the Lord” named Obadiah ran Ahab’s palace while sheltering God’s true prophets on the side. Amos and Hosea thundered against the state; Isaiah acted as a kind of court prophet. Daniel held high office in two different pagan governments and Nehemiah led a detachment of Persian cavalry.
Theologian John Howard Yoder pointed out that Christians will never wholeheartedly embrace or reject culture, but rather we must discriminate among its various parts. We will categorically reject some elements (pornography, tyranny, human trafficking), accept others within limits (commerce, transportation, taxes), and provide a new motivation to others (family life, education, peacemaking). We will use some aspects of culture (music, art, language), albeit in our own way, and we will heartily promote certain activities (hospices, care for orphans, homeless shelters, soup kitchens).
Is there one best way for Christians to relate to politics and culture, especially in a democracy where we have a rightful voice?
Should we withdraw into a counterculture and devote our energies to the kingdom of God, or should we actively work to transform society? And if we choose the second path, can we do so in a way that does not drown out our core message of love and grace? As Lesslie Newbigin posed the question, “Can one who goes the way of the Cross sit in the seat of Pilate when it falls vacant?”
With all the God-talk in politics today, younger voters may be surprised to learn that evangelicals’ love affair with politics is a recent phenomenon. During my childhood, conservative churches did little “meddling” in politics, emphasizing instead personal behavior and preparation for the next life. In Niebuhr’s term we were mostly Christ-against-culture, and only in the 1980s did anyone start talking about a Moral Majority. In the next decades a clear pattern emerged, as many polls attest: the more vocal Christians became in the political arena, the more negatively they were viewed. Not long ago a huge majority of the uncommitted still viewed Christians favorably. Now, as I have mentioned, a diminishing minority of young “outsiders” have a favorable impression of Christianity and only 3 percent have a good impression of evangelicals.
Have Christians obscured the good news by their efforts to restore morality to the broader culture?
The state has one overriding concern, that of controlling bad behavior: how to keep citizens from killing each other, breaking into houses, cheating customers at the market, and yielding to a sexual license that would undermine families. The modern world faces a dilemma. On important issues, society badly needs moral guidance. Religion seems an obvious resource, yet one rejected by much of secular society. Already the media treat opinion polls as the primary arbiter of such matters as sexual behavior, abortion, the death penalty, and assisted suicide. In nations with a religious consensus, church and state can work hand in hand to encourage moral values they both agree on. For example, in more religious times the British king issued a proclamation for the “Encouragement of Piety and Virtue, and for the Preventing and Punishing of Vice, Profaneness, and Immorality.”
The world has changed, however. Diverse societies now contain many different religions — Yugoslavia ruptured into seven countries over its inability to deal with this very predicament.
President Obama irked some Christians when, on a visit to Turkey, he said that although the United States has a large Christian population, “we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”
Fair enough, but if Christians comprise a majority, as they do in the U.S., shouldn’t they have a strong influence in determining those ideals and values?
Excerpted from Vanishing Grace by Philip Yancey, copyright Zondervan, 2014.
* * *
Your Turn
Have Christians obscured the good news by their efforts to restore morality to the broader culture? Is there one best way for Christians to relate to politics and culture, especially in a democracy where we have a rightful voice? Join the conversation today on our blog.
submitted by RJ-Hamster to Devotions [link] [comments]


2020.05.14 00:23 RJ-Hamster Uneasy Partners: Christians and Politics

Uneasy Partners: Christians and Politics
📷
Philip Yancey
October 17, 2014
📷
The media often use “right-wing” as an adjective inseparably connected with evangelicals.
James Davison Hunter says, “It is possible to argue that at the same time the Christian Right acquired and exercised its greatest power — culminating in the 2004 presidential election — this movement also generated greater hostility toward the Christian faith than ever before in the nation’s history.” Hunter adds that evangelicals on the left follow a parallel course of political involvement, looking to government to enact the policies they hold dear.
How should Christians engage in a democracy that includes a diversity of beliefs and that grows increasingly post-Christian? And how do we live out convictions in a way that still conveys grace?
Christ and Culture
Jesus himself showed little concern for secular politics, calling Herod “that fox,” stonewalling Pontius Pilate with his lack of self defense, and leaving us with the enigmatic rule, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” The apostle Paul, in contrast, used the full privilege of Roman citizenship.
He confronted culture with the new message of Jesus while simultaneously showing respect for political authority.
He testified before imperial officials and at times relied on the Roman military to protect him from his religious enemies. When arrested, he appealed his case up the ladder of the Roman justice system, where he got a final hearing with a tragic end.
In short, the New Testament presents government as necessary, even ordained by God, but certainly no sponsor or friend to faith. Jesus, Paul, and most of the twelve disciples died as martyrs, after all, and the early Christians faced periodic waves of persecution from Roman emperors.
Two centuries later Christians viewed with thanksgiving and relief the conversion of the emperor Constantine, who granted Christianity protected status. Soon it became the official state religion. Over the next millennium in Europe, church and state interplayed like dancing partners, sometimes locked in tight embrace and sometimes flinging each other across the ballroom floor. The global spread of Christianity introduced new church/state variations in places like Africa and the Americas.
During the Eisenhower era of the 1950s, about the time “In God We Trust” was added to U.S. coins, theologian H. Richard Niebuhr published a book that became a classic. Christ and Culture describes five different approaches to how religion and government, or church and state, might relate to each other. Niebuhr called one approach “Christ above culture,” referring to times when the church wielded the real power. Europe’s Holy Roman Empire perfected this model: royalty kneeled before the pope, not vice versa. At the other end of the spectrum, Anabaptists and other splinter groups separated themselves from the surrounding culture; “Christ against culture,” Niebuhr labeled their approach. The dissenters’ refusal to take oaths, to doff their caps to authorities, and to serve in the army and on juries infuriated their governments, and as a result European countries cruelly persecuted them. North America served as a haven for many of these groups, including Quakers, Amish, Mennonites, and Hutterites.
John Calvin’s model, adopted by Puritans in America, calls for Christ to transform culture, bringing society in line with Christian values as far as possible. Around the same time, Lutherans developed a doctrine of Christ in paradox with culture. On earth we are subject to two kingdoms, said Martin Luther: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. (Of course, sometimes the government may ask Christians to do what goes against their convictions, bringing the two kingdoms into conflict: in Luther’s homeland many of Hitler’s soldiers used the excuse, “We were obeying the secular kingdom.”)
Finally, a fifth group identifies Christ with culture. This approach may take many forms, such as the ethnic groups (like Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats) who blend religion and culture. Niebuhr used the Social Gospel movement as an American example: as they work to reform society, these folks tend to absorb the culture around them, and in time the distinctives of their faith may disappear.
Reading Niebuhr’s book in my college days left me feeling enlightened but as confused as ever. All five approaches seemed to have something to contribute, and in fact I could point to biblical examples of each one, especially in the Old Testament.
Kings such as David and Solomon virtually combined church and state. Prophets often denounced the surrounding culture — yet even as the prophet Elijah was violently opposing Ahab’s regime, a “devout believer in the Lord” named Obadiah ran Ahab’s palace while sheltering God’s true prophets on the side. Amos and Hosea thundered against the state; Isaiah acted as a kind of court prophet. Daniel held high office in two different pagan governments and Nehemiah led a detachment of Persian cavalry.
Theologian John Howard Yoder pointed out that Christians will never wholeheartedly embrace or reject culture, but rather we must discriminate among its various parts. We will categorically reject some elements (pornography, tyranny, human trafficking), accept others within limits (commerce, transportation, taxes), and provide a new motivation to others (family life, education, peacemaking). We will use some aspects of culture (music, art, language), albeit in our own way, and we will heartily promote certain activities (hospices, care for orphans, homeless shelters, soup kitchens).
Is there one best way for Christians to relate to politics and culture, especially in a democracy where we have a rightful voice?
Should we withdraw into a counterculture and devote our energies to the kingdom of God, or should we actively work to transform society? And if we choose the second path, can we do so in a way that does not drown out our core message of love and grace? As Lesslie Newbigin posed the question, “Can one who goes the way of the Cross sit in the seat of Pilate when it falls vacant?”
With all the God-talk in politics today, younger voters may be surprised to learn that evangelicals’ love affair with politics is a recent phenomenon. During my childhood, conservative churches did little “meddling” in politics, emphasizing instead personal behavior and preparation for the next life. In Niebuhr’s term we were mostly Christ-against-culture, and only in the 1980s did anyone start talking about a Moral Majority. In the next decades a clear pattern emerged, as many polls attest: the more vocal Christians became in the political arena, the more negatively they were viewed. Not long ago a huge majority of the uncommitted still viewed Christians favorably. Now, as I have mentioned, a diminishing minority of young “outsiders” have a favorable impression of Christianity and only 3 percent have a good impression of evangelicals.
Have Christians obscured the good news by their efforts to restore morality to the broader culture?
The state has one overriding concern, that of controlling bad behavior: how to keep citizens from killing each other, breaking into houses, cheating customers at the market, and yielding to a sexual license that would undermine families. The modern world faces a dilemma. On important issues, society badly needs moral guidance. Religion seems an obvious resource, yet one rejected by much of secular society. Already the media treat opinion polls as the primary arbiter of such matters as sexual behavior, abortion, the death penalty, and assisted suicide. In nations with a religious consensus, church and state can work hand in hand to encourage moral values they both agree on. For example, in more religious times the British king issued a proclamation for the “Encouragement of Piety and Virtue, and for the Preventing and Punishing of Vice, Profaneness, and Immorality.”
The world has changed, however. Diverse societies now contain many different religions — Yugoslavia ruptured into seven countries over its inability to deal with this very predicament.
President Obama irked some Christians when, on a visit to Turkey, he said that although the United States has a large Christian population, “we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”
Fair enough, but if Christians comprise a majority, as they do in the U.S., shouldn’t they have a strong influence in determining those ideals and values?
Excerpted from Vanishing Grace by Philip Yancey, copyright Zondervan, 2014.
* * *
Your Turn
Have Christians obscured the good news by their efforts to restore morality to the broader culture? Is there one best way for Christians to relate to politics and culture, especially in a democracy where we have a rightful voice? Join the conversation today on our blog.
submitted by RJ-Hamster to RJHamster [link] [comments]


2020.05.14 00:22 RJ-Hamster Uneasy Partners: Christians and Politics

Uneasy Partners: Christians and Politics
📷
Philip Yancey
October 17, 2014
📷
The media often use “right-wing” as an adjective inseparably connected with evangelicals.
James Davison Hunter says, “It is possible to argue that at the same time the Christian Right acquired and exercised its greatest power — culminating in the 2004 presidential election — this movement also generated greater hostility toward the Christian faith than ever before in the nation’s history.” Hunter adds that evangelicals on the left follow a parallel course of political involvement, looking to government to enact the policies they hold dear.
How should Christians engage in a democracy that includes a diversity of beliefs and that grows increasingly post-Christian? And how do we live out convictions in a way that still conveys grace?
Christ and Culture
Jesus himself showed little concern for secular politics, calling Herod “that fox,” stonewalling Pontius Pilate with his lack of self defense, and leaving us with the enigmatic rule, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” The apostle Paul, in contrast, used the full privilege of Roman citizenship.
He confronted culture with the new message of Jesus while simultaneously showing respect for political authority.
He testified before imperial officials and at times relied on the Roman military to protect him from his religious enemies. When arrested, he appealed his case up the ladder of the Roman justice system, where he got a final hearing with a tragic end.
In short, the New Testament presents government as necessary, even ordained by God, but certainly no sponsor or friend to faith. Jesus, Paul, and most of the twelve disciples died as martyrs, after all, and the early Christians faced periodic waves of persecution from Roman emperors.
Two centuries later Christians viewed with thanksgiving and relief the conversion of the emperor Constantine, who granted Christianity protected status. Soon it became the official state religion. Over the next millennium in Europe, church and state interplayed like dancing partners, sometimes locked in tight embrace and sometimes flinging each other across the ballroom floor. The global spread of Christianity introduced new church/state variations in places like Africa and the Americas.
During the Eisenhower era of the 1950s, about the time “In God We Trust” was added to U.S. coins, theologian H. Richard Niebuhr published a book that became a classic. Christ and Culture describes five different approaches to how religion and government, or church and state, might relate to each other. Niebuhr called one approach “Christ above culture,” referring to times when the church wielded the real power. Europe’s Holy Roman Empire perfected this model: royalty kneeled before the pope, not vice versa. At the other end of the spectrum, Anabaptists and other splinter groups separated themselves from the surrounding culture; “Christ against culture,” Niebuhr labeled their approach. The dissenters’ refusal to take oaths, to doff their caps to authorities, and to serve in the army and on juries infuriated their governments, and as a result European countries cruelly persecuted them. North America served as a haven for many of these groups, including Quakers, Amish, Mennonites, and Hutterites.
John Calvin’s model, adopted by Puritans in America, calls for Christ to transform culture, bringing society in line with Christian values as far as possible. Around the same time, Lutherans developed a doctrine of Christ in paradox with culture. On earth we are subject to two kingdoms, said Martin Luther: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. (Of course, sometimes the government may ask Christians to do what goes against their convictions, bringing the two kingdoms into conflict: in Luther’s homeland many of Hitler’s soldiers used the excuse, “We were obeying the secular kingdom.”)
Finally, a fifth group identifies Christ with culture. This approach may take many forms, such as the ethnic groups (like Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats) who blend religion and culture. Niebuhr used the Social Gospel movement as an American example: as they work to reform society, these folks tend to absorb the culture around them, and in time the distinctives of their faith may disappear.
Reading Niebuhr’s book in my college days left me feeling enlightened but as confused as ever. All five approaches seemed to have something to contribute, and in fact I could point to biblical examples of each one, especially in the Old Testament.
Kings such as David and Solomon virtually combined church and state. Prophets often denounced the surrounding culture — yet even as the prophet Elijah was violently opposing Ahab’s regime, a “devout believer in the Lord” named Obadiah ran Ahab’s palace while sheltering God’s true prophets on the side. Amos and Hosea thundered against the state; Isaiah acted as a kind of court prophet. Daniel held high office in two different pagan governments and Nehemiah led a detachment of Persian cavalry.
Theologian John Howard Yoder pointed out that Christians will never wholeheartedly embrace or reject culture, but rather we must discriminate among its various parts. We will categorically reject some elements (pornography, tyranny, human trafficking), accept others within limits (commerce, transportation, taxes), and provide a new motivation to others (family life, education, peacemaking). We will use some aspects of culture (music, art, language), albeit in our own way, and we will heartily promote certain activities (hospices, care for orphans, homeless shelters, soup kitchens).
Is there one best way for Christians to relate to politics and culture, especially in a democracy where we have a rightful voice?
Should we withdraw into a counterculture and devote our energies to the kingdom of God, or should we actively work to transform society? And if we choose the second path, can we do so in a way that does not drown out our core message of love and grace? As Lesslie Newbigin posed the question, “Can one who goes the way of the Cross sit in the seat of Pilate when it falls vacant?”
With all the God-talk in politics today, younger voters may be surprised to learn that evangelicals’ love affair with politics is a recent phenomenon. During my childhood, conservative churches did little “meddling” in politics, emphasizing instead personal behavior and preparation for the next life. In Niebuhr’s term we were mostly Christ-against-culture, and only in the 1980s did anyone start talking about a Moral Majority. In the next decades a clear pattern emerged, as many polls attest: the more vocal Christians became in the political arena, the more negatively they were viewed. Not long ago a huge majority of the uncommitted still viewed Christians favorably. Now, as I have mentioned, a diminishing minority of young “outsiders” have a favorable impression of Christianity and only 3 percent have a good impression of evangelicals.
Have Christians obscured the good news by their efforts to restore morality to the broader culture?
The state has one overriding concern, that of controlling bad behavior: how to keep citizens from killing each other, breaking into houses, cheating customers at the market, and yielding to a sexual license that would undermine families. The modern world faces a dilemma. On important issues, society badly needs moral guidance. Religion seems an obvious resource, yet one rejected by much of secular society. Already the media treat opinion polls as the primary arbiter of such matters as sexual behavior, abortion, the death penalty, and assisted suicide. In nations with a religious consensus, church and state can work hand in hand to encourage moral values they both agree on. For example, in more religious times the British king issued a proclamation for the “Encouragement of Piety and Virtue, and for the Preventing and Punishing of Vice, Profaneness, and Immorality.”
The world has changed, however. Diverse societies now contain many different religions — Yugoslavia ruptured into seven countries over its inability to deal with this very predicament.
President Obama irked some Christians when, on a visit to Turkey, he said that although the United States has a large Christian population, “we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”
Fair enough, but if Christians comprise a majority, as they do in the U.S., shouldn’t they have a strong influence in determining those ideals and values?
Excerpted from Vanishing Grace by Philip Yancey, copyright Zondervan, 2014.
* * *
Your Turn
Have Christians obscured the good news by their efforts to restore morality to the broader culture? Is there one best way for Christians to relate to politics and culture, especially in a democracy where we have a rightful voice? Join the conversation today on our blog.
submitted by RJ-Hamster to WalkwithGod [link] [comments]


2020.05.14 00:22 RJ-Hamster Uneasy Partners: Christians and Politics

Uneasy Partners: Christians and Politics
📷
Philip Yancey
October 17, 2014
📷
The media often use “right-wing” as an adjective inseparably connected with evangelicals.
James Davison Hunter says, “It is possible to argue that at the same time the Christian Right acquired and exercised its greatest power — culminating in the 2004 presidential election — this movement also generated greater hostility toward the Christian faith than ever before in the nation’s history.” Hunter adds that evangelicals on the left follow a parallel course of political involvement, looking to government to enact the policies they hold dear.
How should Christians engage in a democracy that includes a diversity of beliefs and that grows increasingly post-Christian? And how do we live out convictions in a way that still conveys grace?
Christ and Culture
Jesus himself showed little concern for secular politics, calling Herod “that fox,” stonewalling Pontius Pilate with his lack of self defense, and leaving us with the enigmatic rule, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” The apostle Paul, in contrast, used the full privilege of Roman citizenship.
He confronted culture with the new message of Jesus while simultaneously showing respect for political authority.
He testified before imperial officials and at times relied on the Roman military to protect him from his religious enemies. When arrested, he appealed his case up the ladder of the Roman justice system, where he got a final hearing with a tragic end.
In short, the New Testament presents government as necessary, even ordained by God, but certainly no sponsor or friend to faith. Jesus, Paul, and most of the twelve disciples died as martyrs, after all, and the early Christians faced periodic waves of persecution from Roman emperors.
Two centuries later Christians viewed with thanksgiving and relief the conversion of the emperor Constantine, who granted Christianity protected status. Soon it became the official state religion. Over the next millennium in Europe, church and state interplayed like dancing partners, sometimes locked in tight embrace and sometimes flinging each other across the ballroom floor. The global spread of Christianity introduced new church/state variations in places like Africa and the Americas.
During the Eisenhower era of the 1950s, about the time “In God We Trust” was added to U.S. coins, theologian H. Richard Niebuhr published a book that became a classic. Christ and Culture describes five different approaches to how religion and government, or church and state, might relate to each other. Niebuhr called one approach “Christ above culture,” referring to times when the church wielded the real power. Europe’s Holy Roman Empire perfected this model: royalty kneeled before the pope, not vice versa. At the other end of the spectrum, Anabaptists and other splinter groups separated themselves from the surrounding culture; “Christ against culture,” Niebuhr labeled their approach. The dissenters’ refusal to take oaths, to doff their caps to authorities, and to serve in the army and on juries infuriated their governments, and as a result European countries cruelly persecuted them. North America served as a haven for many of these groups, including Quakers, Amish, Mennonites, and Hutterites.
John Calvin’s model, adopted by Puritans in America, calls for Christ to transform culture, bringing society in line with Christian values as far as possible. Around the same time, Lutherans developed a doctrine of Christ in paradox with culture. On earth we are subject to two kingdoms, said Martin Luther: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. (Of course, sometimes the government may ask Christians to do what goes against their convictions, bringing the two kingdoms into conflict: in Luther’s homeland many of Hitler’s soldiers used the excuse, “We were obeying the secular kingdom.”)
Finally, a fifth group identifies Christ with culture. This approach may take many forms, such as the ethnic groups (like Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats) who blend religion and culture. Niebuhr used the Social Gospel movement as an American example: as they work to reform society, these folks tend to absorb the culture around them, and in time the distinctives of their faith may disappear.
Reading Niebuhr’s book in my college days left me feeling enlightened but as confused as ever. All five approaches seemed to have something to contribute, and in fact I could point to biblical examples of each one, especially in the Old Testament.
Kings such as David and Solomon virtually combined church and state. Prophets often denounced the surrounding culture — yet even as the prophet Elijah was violently opposing Ahab’s regime, a “devout believer in the Lord” named Obadiah ran Ahab’s palace while sheltering God’s true prophets on the side. Amos and Hosea thundered against the state; Isaiah acted as a kind of court prophet. Daniel held high office in two different pagan governments and Nehemiah led a detachment of Persian cavalry.
Theologian John Howard Yoder pointed out that Christians will never wholeheartedly embrace or reject culture, but rather we must discriminate among its various parts. We will categorically reject some elements (pornography, tyranny, human trafficking), accept others within limits (commerce, transportation, taxes), and provide a new motivation to others (family life, education, peacemaking). We will use some aspects of culture (music, art, language), albeit in our own way, and we will heartily promote certain activities (hospices, care for orphans, homeless shelters, soup kitchens).
Is there one best way for Christians to relate to politics and culture, especially in a democracy where we have a rightful voice?
Should we withdraw into a counterculture and devote our energies to the kingdom of God, or should we actively work to transform society? And if we choose the second path, can we do so in a way that does not drown out our core message of love and grace? As Lesslie Newbigin posed the question, “Can one who goes the way of the Cross sit in the seat of Pilate when it falls vacant?”
With all the God-talk in politics today, younger voters may be surprised to learn that evangelicals’ love affair with politics is a recent phenomenon. During my childhood, conservative churches did little “meddling” in politics, emphasizing instead personal behavior and preparation for the next life. In Niebuhr’s term we were mostly Christ-against-culture, and only in the 1980s did anyone start talking about a Moral Majority. In the next decades a clear pattern emerged, as many polls attest: the more vocal Christians became in the political arena, the more negatively they were viewed. Not long ago a huge majority of the uncommitted still viewed Christians favorably. Now, as I have mentioned, a diminishing minority of young “outsiders” have a favorable impression of Christianity and only 3 percent have a good impression of evangelicals.
Have Christians obscured the good news by their efforts to restore morality to the broader culture?
The state has one overriding concern, that of controlling bad behavior: how to keep citizens from killing each other, breaking into houses, cheating customers at the market, and yielding to a sexual license that would undermine families. The modern world faces a dilemma. On important issues, society badly needs moral guidance. Religion seems an obvious resource, yet one rejected by much of secular society. Already the media treat opinion polls as the primary arbiter of such matters as sexual behavior, abortion, the death penalty, and assisted suicide. In nations with a religious consensus, church and state can work hand in hand to encourage moral values they both agree on. For example, in more religious times the British king issued a proclamation for the “Encouragement of Piety and Virtue, and for the Preventing and Punishing of Vice, Profaneness, and Immorality.”
The world has changed, however. Diverse societies now contain many different religions — Yugoslavia ruptured into seven countries over its inability to deal with this very predicament.
President Obama irked some Christians when, on a visit to Turkey, he said that although the United States has a large Christian population, “we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”
Fair enough, but if Christians comprise a majority, as they do in the U.S., shouldn’t they have a strong influence in determining those ideals and values?
Excerpted from Vanishing Grace by Philip Yancey, copyright Zondervan, 2014.
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Your Turn
Have Christians obscured the good news by their efforts to restore morality to the broader culture? Is there one best way for Christians to relate to politics and culture, especially in a democracy where we have a rightful voice? Join the conversation today on our blog.
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Amazing! Amish mules pull modern baler. Old-fashioned ... Introduction to PA Deitsch 2 Women Discuss Having Sex With Dogs - YouTube You Have To See What Is Inside This Apple Log - YouTube Stressed Out Student Has Sex With A Sheep - YouTube When a farmer's mule escapes the Amish shoeing barn - YouTube Her First Enema - YouTube This Chick Makes Out With 2 Girls In Front Of Her GF  Lip ... This 18 Year Old Girl is Dating a 68 Year Old Man - YouTube

Amish Definition, History, Beliefs, & Lifestyle Britannica

  1. Amazing! Amish mules pull modern baler. Old-fashioned ...
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