Now that Eugene Peterson is Dead, I Shall Finally Meet Him.

Eugene Peterson is dead.

I was reading his book, The Pastor, as possible replacement for an out of date text for the School of Ministry for New Horizons Ministries, of which I am the Director.

I had just finished reading the section where Peterson recalls his mother being scolded by a man from their church for telling the men who came to their house stories from the Bible. The man silenced her but stirred in Peterson’s soul, a step towards whet he would ultimately become: a pastor.

For me, this experience is full of tension: while I am reading the book, the author dies. As I grow to know this man through his reflections and summation of his life, his life ends.

I feel as though I have lost a great friend I’m just now getting to know.

However, I know of many who he touched: either in his literary works, his ministry, ministers who talked about him as if they knew him just by reading his material. It’s as if I am finally meeting the man who I only knew through others for the first time. And now that I have just now shook his hand and introduced myself, just as his lips had parted, before the breath leaves his lungs, his grip slips through my hand. The man I had started to know is gone.

I’m only fifty pages into The Pastor, and already, it has changed my life. His insight and humor is alien in this atmosphere of political chaos, moral collapse, and marketable minsters and their churches. And yet, his words bring comfort, solace, encouragement, just what a minister’s words should do.

I am writing this upon just hearing of Peterson’s death so that the emotion and immediacy of my feelings can come through this glimpse of how much a man I never met has changed me, has made me a better man, has helped me love God and my neighbor more truly than I had before our brief encounter.

I look forward to truly meeting him, to complete our introduction, and rejoice in Paradise at the Great Things our mutual Triune God has done.

Now that Eugene Peterson is dead, I shall finally meet him.

Confessions of a Tired Christian

It’s hard to be a Christian in today’s atmosphere.

As a young Christian, I am being yelled at from so many different sides within and without Christendom. Christ has grown nearer to me, but the Church appears to be more divisive and divided than it has been in my life.

Daily, there are opposites voicing their opinions loudly at me:

True Christians support Trump and true Christians don’t support Trump.

True Christians support refugees and true Christians don’t support refugees.

True Christians believe the accusations of rape victims and true Christians weigh the evidence.

True Christians are educated and true Christians only need the Holy Spirit.

True Christians read and write poetry and draw and paint and true Christians are working hard and don’t have time for such none-sense.

True Christians daily read their Bible and memorize Scripture and true Christians don’t have to as long they are loving God and loving their neighbor.

True Christians pray for their enemies and Christians don’t have enemies.

True Christians do _____________ and true Christians don’t _____________ .

True Christians think _____________ and true Christians don’t think  _____________ .

True Christians feel _____________ and true Christians wouldn’t feel _____________ .

And often, those blanks are the same. And I hate these kinds of statements.

There are moments when I doubt what I believe because those who are wiser, smarter, closer to God than me say the opposite while those who are wiser, smarter, closer to God than me say the same. The demonization of the opposition is a caricature that seems to seep into our subconscious and bloom into prejudice and isolationism.

I’m not complaining – but I am tired. And frustrated. And often times lost.

But it’s in this lostness where great things have been happening: my love for my wife had deepened and grown; my affection and concern for my children has deepened and grown; my hunger for peace and justice is balancing with my hunger for grace and empathy; my patience with those I disagree with has expanded and I delight in good, thorough conversations; I enjoy work more than ever before; but above all, God has grown in my heart and mind, and I love him all the more because of his love for me.

Lostness provides me with great clarity on what I think is important. So, while I strive to obey God and serve my neighbor, I shouldn’t be surprised at the contradictions in Christianity, though growing weary in them I believe is acceptable.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there are others like me who struggle to hear Gods still small voice; in Scripture, in His Spirit, in the silence.

However, I am reminded from his Word:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8: 38-39

Filmmaking Films for 2018-2019

Each year, I give my filmmaking students a list of films.

They have to choose one film, watch it a minimum of three times, which, to be honest, is not always enough to gain an appreciation of the craft. However, with all the other homework they have, and given that they have 16 weeks to complete the assignment (a 5 – 10 page paper covering a given topic provided with the film), three time is plenty.

The three view requirement has the following benefits and outcomes:

  1. first viewing is always hard to create objective (and subjective) appreciation for the film since you are taking everything in – the acting, the camera movement, the music, the atmosphere, etc;
  2. with the second viewing, the shine has worn off, the honeymoon is over, and now, you watch it with pen and paper and begin to analyze and dissect;
  3. the third, and often final viewing, you are able to even better observe your given topic in the film and how is effects the theme, message, and craft.

Just for you, here is the list of films for my class for the 2018-2019 school year with their given topic. Most are classics, masterpieces, and game changers, but some are newer films that are included to help stretch my students to teach modern film with a critical eye. The list is alphabetical. I hope you check some out.

400 Blows, The; 1959; Not Rated; 99 min; French w/English Subtitles; Black and White; DVD There are multiple track shots used in this film: discuss how the use of this particular shot get us into the character’s psyche?
Babette’s Feast; 1987; G; 104 min; Danish, French, Swedish w/English Subtitles; Color; DVD Discuss how the is food framed and what this tells the viewer about its importance/unimportance.
Beauty & the Beast; 1946; Not Rated; 93 min; French w/English subtitles; Black & White; BluRay Discuss the three most beautiful moments in the film: how they are framed, edited, music, set, acting, etc.
Black, Stallion, The; 1979; G; 118 min; English; Color; DVD Discuss why the silence in the film works better to create tension, rather than loud sounds effects.
Casablanca; 1942; PG; 102 min; English; Color; DVD Discuss the character arc of Rick Blaine, and how it is framed.
Chimes at Midnight; 1966; Not Rated; 116 min; English; Black and White; DVD Discuss how the use of hand held camera shots helps add a sense of realism to the viewer’s experience.
Citizen Kane; 1941; Approved; 119 min; English; Black and White; DVD Discuss the transitions to flashbacks in this film: how and why do they work?
City Lights; 1931; Passed; 86 min; English title cards; Black and White; BluRay/DVD Discus how the physical comedy is framed: does it make it funnier?
Cool Hand Luke; 1976; GP; 126 min.; English; Color; DVD Luke is presented as a Messiah figure – how are his “miracles” presented? Include his “death.”
Duelist, The; 1977; PG; 100 min; English; Color; BluRay Discuss the use of ‘zoom’ lens movement in the film: what does it do/doesn’t do?
Fantastic Mr. Fox; 2009; PG; 87 min.; English; Color; BluRay/DVD The film is presented as a storybook: how does this presentation affect the theme?
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; 2004; PB; 142 min; English; Color; DVD Discuss how the theme of time presented (framed/sound/etc)
High and Low; 1963; Not Rated; 143 min; Japanese w/English Subtitles; Black/White and Color; DVD Discuss the use of high and low angles in the film: when they are used and what do they accomplish
Ikiru; 1952; Not Rated; 143 min; Japanese w/English Subtitles; Black and White; DVD Discuss the director’s lack of camera movement and how his editing creates ‘movement’ when the camera is still
In the Mood for Love; 2000; PG; 98 min; Cantonese w/English Subtitles; Color; BluRay Discuss how the use of color assists the narrative of the film.
Ivan’s Childhood; 1962; Not Rated; 95 min; Russian w/English Subtitles; Black and White; DVD Discuss when the camera is handheld: why these scenes and not others?
Leopard, The; 1963; PG; 185 min.; Italian w/English Subtitles; Color; DVD Choose a character: how does their costuming reveal their character arc throughout out the film?
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World; 2003; PG-13; 138 min; English; Color; DVD The majority of the film takes place on the ocean. Discuss some possible challenges and solutions to filming the aquatic scenes.
Millennium Actress; 2002; PG; 87 min; English; Color; DVD Some of the editing in this animated feature would be impossible for a live action film. Discuss how this is true.
Passion of Joan of Arc, The; 1928; Not Rated; 114 min; Silent with English title cards; Black & White; DVD Explain how the use of close ups in the film helps the audience feel what the characters feel.
Playtime; 1967; Not Rated; 115 min; French and English; Color; DVD What is the theme of  this film?
Rashomon; 1950; Not Rated; 88 min; Japanese w/English Subtitles; Black and White; DVD The film is told from several perspectives. Discuss how are the different perspectives framed.
Samourai, Le; 1967; PG; 105 min; French w/English Subtitles; Color; DVD Discuss how violence is framed and edited in this film.
Rebecca; 1940; Not Rated; 130 min; English; Black & White; DVD Discuss the use of the elements present in the film and what they represent.
Secret of Kells, The; 2009; Not Rated; 75 min; English; Color; DVD Discuss how symmetry serves to create beauty and discomfort in the viewer’s experience.
Seventh Seal, The; 1957; Not Rated; 97 min; Swedish w/English Subtitles; Black and White; BluRay Discuss the presentation of Death in this film.
Sorcerer; 1977; PG; 121 min; English; Color; BluRay Discuss how the sound design and sound editing creates the tense and chaotic atmosphere that pervades through the film.
Spirit of the Beehive, The; 1973; Unrated; Spanish w/English Subtitles; Color; DVD Discuss how the child’s imagination is presented.
Stagecoach; 1939; Not Rated; English; Black and White; DVD Discuss how the landscape emphasizes the theme of the film.
Summer Wars; 2009; PG; 114 min; English; Color; DVD Discuss  and compare the camera movement and framing in the “real world” vs “Oz.’
Third Man, The; 1949; Not Rated; 104 min; English; Black and White; DVD Discuss the use of the dutch angel and its effectiveness.
Tree of Life, The; 2011; PG-13; 139 min; English; Color; BluRay/DVD Discuss how cross cutting affects the story telling in the film.
Tokyo Story; 1953; Not Rated; 136 min; Japanese w/English Subtitles; Black and White; BluRay/DVD Discuss the presence of the 180 degree rule in this film/ Does the breaking of the rule become distracting or engaging. Explain.
Vampyr; 1932; Not Rated; 73 min; Silent; Black and White; DVD Chose three practical effects and how they add to the unsettling atmosphere of the film.

Which films have you seen/want to see?


The Importance of Asking Questions

It’s unfortunate that the art of conversation is being lost during this age of digital anonymity. Of this art, one brush stroke stands out to me above the rest as being more sorely missed. When talking to any one, it is astounding the power of a good question.

In my apologetics class, there is a day where the student can only ask questions, and never provide answers. For every statement they make, they loose a point. It is possible to fail this day. I can ask questions and answer, but my students can only ask questions.

It is a hard and difficult day for two reasons: 1) They cannot ask one word questions, i.e. What? Why? And?, and 2) they’re not entirely sure how to ask good questions.

I think this is a recurring problem in our society for several reasons.

  1. Asking questions comes across as being ignorant on a subject, and in this informational age, if you don’t know something, you are seen as out of touch, and worse, uninformed.
  2. Questions provide a person the opportunity to be humble, an admittance that one does not know a thing. This humility is countercultural for us, though not as Christians, and is seen as weakness.
  3. Being teachable and having a desire to learn is uncommon. More often then not, more people want to know what is right and what to do that is right. Asking “Why” is not as acceptable as it once was (was it, though?) because it is seen as questioning authority or being judgmental.
  4. Asking questions reveals what you consider to be important. You ask what you want to know about, what you care about, what matters to you. Asking a question is revealing. It’s a little scary. The phrase, “there’s no such thing as a bad question,” is a lie. Yes there are. There are plenty of bad questions. But sometimes, we only know how to ask bad questions because we’re not thinking of how to ask good ones.

There are other reasons, but I think this is sufficient.

What would constitute as a good question then?

“How was your day” is a great opener. However, after the person responds with “good,” “fine,” “ok,” this is where you have an opportunity for a good question: “what made your day good/fine/ok?” Now, you are asking for a reason to an answer, you are taking the first plunge into the dark waters of conversation – an act that is so foreign to some that they may very well sigh and think for a moment, a moment of honest reflection! And as you listen, you may very well have an opportunity to respond, to provide them with a chance to ask you a question.

This is the art of conversation: a dance of words where you must pay attention to what is said and not said, of tone, body language, emotion, fluctuation, and other things that ultimately boils down to one idea: love your neighbor as yourself.

Do you listen to ask good questions? If not, you’re not fully loving your neighbor.

Good questions reveal who you love. Jesus asked good questions – and his love is the greatest the word has ever known. Let us reflect that same compassion by paying attention to those around us and asking questions that reveal our love for God and our neighbor.

Who knows? A persons conversion could all be attributed to you asking “How are you today?”

The Graying of the Light (Reflection of Berlin & the Reformation)

This was an article written for IPHC’s magazine, Encourage. It was then published on Bishop Doug Beacham’s Blog as a guest article.

It was an odd thing to watch the graying of the light as we descended between the ever-darkening layers of clouds. What was once a bright and clear flight had now become ash and soot-colored as we touched down in the paradoxical city of Berlin–a city that boldly tries to outlive the hauntingly grievous recent past by splattering modern fonts and slogans over aged buildings. And yet, it was the further past that brought us presently to this place–a celebration of protesting, of reforming, of such paradigm altering hermeneutics that the waves of that seismic shift are still experienced in every corner of Christendom. However, there was one melancholy thought, planted by a minister, that rested on my mind throughout the days. For many, this would not have bothered them. Unfortunately, I was unable to shrug this conflicting phrase from my conscience as we drove through this water colored city: Hitler quoted Luther.

Now, it is essential to recognize that Luther would neither condone nor accept Hitler’s genocidal philosophies and actions toward and against the Jewish people. Luther desired the Jews find salvation in Christ, whom Luther believed, they did not kill (a vehement counterculture belief in his time). In contrast, Hitler desired the Jewish people be exterminated. In Luther’s vigor, his works did not call for the eradication of the Jews; Hitler’s actions were founded in eradication. Never has Germany possessed such starkly dissimilar figures.

It seemed unfathomable that both Luther, whose bust would mantle upon the pantheon of Christendom’s most invaluable theologians and thinkers, and Hitler, whose venomously infectious ideology of dominance and supremacy which still lingers today, would share a common mental thread: that the Jewish people are not really people. It was here the minister’s words reverberated through the corridors of my heavy heart: Hitler quoted Luther.

The following days were a blur of history, theology, community, and story after story of God’s great presence in the variously represented denominations in attendance at the Wittenberg Congress. IPHC leaders and my own conference’s executive council was there (in its entirety) and we mingled with Nazarenes, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and others in our branch of Christianity. We gathered to celebrate the defiance of one man, and how he, through a new doctrine, brought Christ to the masses in an accessible and personal manner. We are the children of the Reformation–and we came to rightly honor our father and mother. In this collage of denominational men and women, in spite of color, tongue, or creed, we chorally and authentically affirmed the defiantly Protestant doctrine that man is saved from his sins and their consequences by faith alone.

I pray not for the harvest; I tarry for laborers. – Dr. Timothy Hill

What does the church look like when it stops building walls? – Dr. Glenn Burris

You sow yourself into others. – Dr. Alex Mitala

Our call is not to filthiness, but to holiness. – Dr. Samson Ayokunle

Forgive us our sins, Oh God. Forgive us, we pray. – Dr. Jo Anne Lyon

We are preaching answers to questions no one is asking. – Dr. Leon Fontaine

Tribalism is the perversion of the biblical function and purpose of tribes. – Dr. Gustavo Crocker

The reading aloud of Scripture is the soundtrack to life. – Dr. Leonard Sweet

If you want to plant something that lasts for a season, plant flowers; a lifetime, trees; forever, churches!– Dr. Suliasi Kurulo

What Muslims call an abomination, Christians call our greatest joy. – Lazarus Yeghnazar

After you read a book 100 times you can immediately understand it. – Dr. Byoungho Zoh

I melted. I cried. I said that if this is God’s will, I will go. – Dr. David Sobrepena

I have not enough sole to tread through the heart of Berlin. A few days were far from enough time to drink in the culture, the tastes, the atmosphere of this odd city. The monolithic concrete remnants of the Wall grasped at pedestrians’ feet, as if blades of grass seeking nourishment under the steely branches of industry and national progress. The minimalism of the BauHaus movement, a movement that revolutionized the architectural, appliance, and art spheres of modern ascetics, continues to drive forward at an unrelenting pace. The monument to the Holocaust, a city square block of hundreds of concrete coffins systematically arranged to imitate a claustrophobic cemetery, brought me to tears as I stood in the literal and figurative shadows of one of humanity’s greatest stains. And then to Wittenberg.

The rain drowned trees, parted by a medianed asphalt path, led us to the womb of our great heritage of protestation. The Germanic countryside regularly reminded me of a casual blend of Ozarkian groves and Carolinian shrub. Moss and leaves bled across the never bare forested terrain, as we snaked amid the flat Great Woods. This was the landscape of Luther’s thoughts and words – how I wished to wander with him between the canopied heaven and soiled earth, longing to hear him speak.

Scattered lamps and headlights littered the sable silence as we meandered through shadowlands bathed in the thickening fog. The service had followed a similar evangelical pattern, with some minor revisions: an opening song (in Latin by an Asian choir), the welcome and greeting, the sermon (of which there were three), another song (A Mighty Fortress is Our God), announcements, thank yous, and then dismally through the door.

The Door. That Door. Luther’s Door.

A once wooden door replaced centuries past on firmer hinges, which now hung and swung, etched in his native tongue, Luther’s 95 Theses. The experience was humbling – I cried as I touched the foreign words. History was, at this moment, tangible under my trembling fingers. I dare not ruin the moment by trying to describe its significance to me – but I know that God heard my thankful prayer under the great shadow cast by this portal.

During the service, a new thought took root in my mind, a thought that germinated and festered as an open wound as the speakers spoke and the congregation listened. A thought that now brings comfort to me–and as we departed from not only the church, but the city, the country, and the continent, the comfort of this new thought brought peace to my heart.

Yes, Hitler had indeed quoted Luther. But did not Satan use the words of God to the Israelites in his temptation of Christ?

Original article can be found here:

DAVID LEAN: A Study in Editing

There are two types of editing: editing that you notice and editing that you don’t.

Within the editing that you notice you have people like Edgar Wright, Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino (though not so much in his later films) and Akira Kurosawa.

Within the editing that you don’t notice you have people like Rian Johnson, David FIncher, Steven Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock, and Carol Reed.

Then, there’s a director in his own category, who’s editing you simultaneously notice and don’t notice, a feat that no other director can or will achieve.

David Lean.

As I have been studying him, preparing my notes and lessons for my Film Making class (we will be studying him for the first semester), never have I stopped, rewound, and rewatched so many scenes because the editing is so effortless, so surprising while at the same instant so obvious, that I can admit that I know less about editing than before I began watching him.

Editing is when you change camera angles and how you do it.

And David Lean knew just how to do it.

The repetition of the dissolve contrasting harshly with the outlandish train whistle in the station never lost its emotional impact as two almost lover dance around their flirtatious and doomed friendship.

The constant cutting on sound as Oliver is shipped from home to attic to roof to street, violently thrusts the viewer into the boy’s perspective, while paralleling his own shock and confusion as he discovers himself in so many new and strange nooks and crannies in London.

The subtle long shots in Lawrence of Arabia that, in their grand scale and epic openness, betray the quiet, angry intimacy of a man who wrestles with himself as much as he does his environment; in not cutting, the world and the pain manifest themselves more believably.

Film is a dramatized reality and it is the director’s job to make it appear real… an audience should not be conscious of technique.

– David Lean

But how did David Lean know how to direct his film with editing in mind? How did he know what sound to use, when there should be silence, when there should be a pan or a tilt, a dolly in or out, a dissolve, a smash? How? How does an artist know when to do the “right” thing?

Well, David Lean began as an editor before he was a director.

He worked hard. Honed his craft. Matured as an artist. And, dare I say, seemingly, effortlessly, left his mark in the world of cinema.

I mean, we are studying him in my film making class, after all.

So what was his great advice for editing?

“I don’t know how to edit. I do know how to feel.”

The Importance of Youth Summer Camp

“Why do we even have summer camp?”

The kid complained to me within the first hour of Teen Camp at Tiger Mountain.

My response, “So you can know you’re not alone.” Then, I went on with my ever growing list of responsibilities.

I forget the exchange.

At the end of camp, the kid comes up to me and tells me how he loves camp and that he can’t wait to come back next year.

I ask him what was his favorite part.

“I learned that God is with me always and that other kids go through the same stuff I do. So I have God and friends with me always.”

Then, I remember the exchange.

For me, camp has three goal: 1) discipleship, 2) evangelism, 3) friendships.

The gathering together for a common affection for God and each other is what we can church, or the church. Camp is just another expression of church – or, rather, it should be.

  1. From the planned lessons of the morning tracks and evening services, to the unplanned conversations deep into the night or in passing between activities, the drawing closer to God and becoming more aware of his presence and nearness to his people, is what drives me as a camp director.
  2. From the first time a kids hears about God, or maybe a correction to a wrong presentation of who God is, God is being presented a person, not an idea of a person, who is infinite in love and power and glory and compassion, who cannot love you any more than he does now and refuses to love you any less.
  3. From the meeting of new fellow believers to the catching up with old friends, campers can be reminded that heir sins, temptations, struggles, wrestlings, victories, accomplishments, growth, and maturation is not unique to them alone; everyone matters in the Kingdom and everyone is meaningful, together.

Why do we even have summer camp? Because God loves you and so do we.

G.K. Chesterton, My Favorite Apologist

He was the fattest, happiest, wittiest Catholic I have ever heard about.

I discovered him in high school, though it wasn’t until college when I began to realize just how amazing of a writer he was.

His defense of reason and God was astounding. His rhetoric and retorts were both pleasant and thought provoking. His mastery of the English language was breath taking. If more Christian authors were to read him, they would be better Christians.

However, here is the thing that first attracted me Chesterton and that which I strive to obtain in my teachings, conversations, lectures, and writing. And that one thing is joy.


We (apologists) get so caught up in defending and answering and proving and debating and reading and writing and studying that it is very easy to lose the joy of our goal: to show Christ as true and Christianity as reasonable.

As the Westminster Catechism reminds us: The purpose of man’s existence is to know and enjoy God. If we fail to do this as Apologists, then perhaps we really are “adding to the noise,” (Jon Foreman).

One of the most wonderful passages I remember reading from Chesterton was in his masterpiece Orthodoxy, as he answers the question (with out being asked, mind you) “How old is God?”

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

This was a man who delights in answering questions, not because he knew the answer and liked to answer questions, but because he knew who the answer would lead the questioner to, and he delighted in the introduction.

What about you? Do you like Chesterton? If so, what books?

If not, what other apologist to you tend to gravitate towards?

Children of a Dark City

Years ago, I wanted to be an author. This was the first chapter in a book I started working on and got pretty far. Enjoy!



“Two roads diverged by a wood,

And I, I took the one less traveled by

And that has made all the difference.”

-Robert Frost.

I’m told that the most important part of a book is the opening line. Most of the time, a reader, like yourself, will base the entire book off of the first sentence. Most writer’s have a great opener: it was dark and stormy night, once upon a time, little did he know, etc. Me, I guess my opening line was me telling you that the most important part of the book was the opening line. If you’re still reading this, it must have been a good opener. Well, I’ll stop wasting your time and get to the story. It’s strange, almost unbelievable, but it’s my story. Sometimes I still wake up in cold sweats, calling out names of people I think I remember. I’m getting ahead of myself. Whether anything changed at all will be up for you to decide. Maybe it’s a pointless story, but it’s my story. People die. I die. Life finds a way, somehow. Don’t bother searching for allegory or metaphor. You won’t find it here. All of this happened. Actually happened. My…wife has encouraged me to write out all that happened so here it is. My story.


The trees lean bare, their dark forms, cracks against the full moon which hangs, cratered and scared, sadly, solemnly in the ominous night. A falling star steals our captivity for a moment, then dies out, leaving us wanting to find where it landed, following the scorch marks of what we would never find – stains of hopeful dreams that only scattered with the morning light, leaving us wanting to sleep, and to sleep perchance to dream, again. Laughter is the echoed shadow against the still blanket that covers the empty and opinionated world of fear and sorrow. We learned to live with the Unknown.

The Unknown was accepted but never allowed to thrive or to even govern us. Our fathers and mothers all fought for the Unknown, trying to grasp It’s concepts, it’s reasons- a ceaseless struggle – trying to comprehend and decipher It’s meaning; holding and trying to understand and find logic in its orderly chaos. But the Unknown hid its true nature until the last, plausible moment, then, in one clean sweep, obliterated the existence of us. For like children, they were infuriated by the prospect of not knowing, and it was in that mentality of uncertainty that drove the mothers and fathers to reach what was beyond their grasp.

They created the Unknown; they fought the Unknown; they died from the Unknown.

They said that we wouldn’t understand- that we couldn’t and they insulted themselves by calling us “too young” forgetting that they, too, were once “too young.” Like many, they had forgotten that children are much more grown up then they seem to be. They said It’s logic was too hard or too great a depth for us to grab a hold to and wrap our minds around. They had forgotten that children held a spectacular awe of mysteries that maturity seemed to kill the minute the cradle is abandoned. Funny, we were the ones who had accepted the Unknown for what it was, what it had always been and will always be- a mystery.

We lived our lives realizing that the mystery would never be solved. Their ignorance caused this abomination, and they died for it.

We were all that was left.

We were all that survived.

We will pick up the pieces they threw aside so carelessly and learn to live with the difference.

They- our fathers and mothers- said we were impenetrable, the impregnable force of the world. We had the best of everything, we were unstoppable, and yet we were the weakest of nations, the lowest of ideals. However, if ever there had been a blessing and a curse in humanity it would have been our curiosity. Curiosity. Curiosity destroyed our homes, our world, us. It killed the world we loved. They couldn’t accept the fact that maybe, just maybe, some stones should be left unturned- that some things should be left in the dark, never exposed to the light. Their lust for knowledge and their greed for revelations is what caused the war and the fear. Curiosity killed a lot of cats.

Other nations and peoples, once our allies and friends, feared what we had become- what we could be, what we could do. In that fear, they attacked and sought to destroy us as well as our prideful hunger and self preservation, and they would have, too, if we hadn’t destroyed ourselves before they reached our shores. If our ignorance to the natural way of things hadn’t been lost, we would have survived this onslaught and thrived. But we failed in that. Our fathers and mothers failed.

Activists and rioters had publicly, and quite violently, disapproved of the tampering with The Unknown. They boldly walked in circles, holding up signs with words of opposition splashed upon their surfaces. Some even went as far as to lay down on the roads and sidewalks. Some prayed in religious tabernacles and sanctuaries for their lords and saviors to stop the horrendous experimentation and prodding because for some unexplainable reason, they knew nothing good would come of their…curiosity. And in return, the gods seemed to have turned a deaf ear towards their prayers.

With every new discovery, man hungers for more.


The Wheel.


Space Travel.


It was what it was- the Unknown. It had the aurora to trigger the desire of humanity’s inescapable need to apprehend It’s essence based on our own lack of self-confidence, if there was ever such a true thing as self-confidence.

They, the forefathers and creators of this monstrosity, gave what they were doing a good name. The television made it seem acceptable. Whenever it was addressed in conversations and interviews, a majority would praise the work as if they knew all the secrets behind the velvet curtain, while the minority was shut out of the circuits. Showers of compliments and approval fell from the populations mouth like a soft, warm rain. Most fell for their propaganda. Some saw through the charade. Not all, but a few. We were a handful of those few who kept their heads. Literally.

We had known each other for years. We all went to the same small town school where everybody knew everybody, but we had only been together for a few months. Friends that were closer than a family- a family that trusted better than friends. We came together with our belief that the Unknown would be left alone. In total, there were five of us.

Keira always shook her blonde hair furiously whenever she was happy. Or when she was trying to stiff a laugh. She was a fan of purple and I had always seen her as the responsibility in my life. Her smile would light up the room and break the hearts of all the second grade boys across the classroom. She was seven. She was my sister.

Mark, the oldest at twenty-one, was built and you could call him a preppy jock, but we liked him anyways. Athletic, smart, handsome, a poster child for what the college heartthrob should be. He had brown hair and foggy eyes matched with a sense of self-sacrificial loyalty and devotion to his family.

If Mark Peter was the father, then Brit was the mother. She was two years younger than Mark and the two held a silent affection for the each other. Maybe it was because she was almost as tall as Mark that made us look up to her, and maybe it was because she had appointed herself as my little sister and I’s “other” mother, but we had all turned to Brit in times of emotional frustration or confusion. Her full name was Brittany Lassette Hearing and we would often call her “Legs.” But never to her face.

Fitch was our little brother from Ireland and he always let us know how much Dublin was better than anywhere else, especially here. At twelve, he had already decided that he wanted to be a race-car driver, just like dad number two – his favorite dad. He had a lisp and it was adorable.

And last, there was me – Sam. I was freshman fresh meet and my family had just moved to this new town a few months ago. I loved music and movies and had a strange attraction to sushi. You know, the average hormonal confused American college student. I was single but was holding out for her. I thought I had found her, my first love, my first true love. I was in heaven on earth.

The five of us watched as one by one, droplets were added to the ocean of masses that were convinced that they had found security in their homes and office buildings. They found comfort in a lie, but they found comfort, nonetheless. Maybe it was because they wanted to hear what they wanted to hear. Maybe it was because Freud was right- they just wanted to suppress the truth because they couldn’t handle it.

The End was imminent and inevitable and when it came, they were astonished and lost. The safety they were promised was as false as the conned interviews they viewed on the television- as false as their own comfort they imagined for themselves with their perverted lies. It was as false as the hope they had come to love and cherish as the absolute truth


It’s been so long since I’ve said that word without feeling sick to my stomach. It’s been so long since we’ve had unquestionable truth- a truth so definitive that not the slightest qualm of conscience could doubt it. A truth so concrete that it couldn’t be tested for flaws. I hadn’t heard truth in so long I assumed the idea had died out. Fear, became the new truth, and all sought rest within the shadow of that flippant wing.

Fear was never the actual problem- pride was. It was fear that said “I have seen the end and there is no hope,” but it was pride that said “No one can help us except ourselves. We are alone and we want it that way.”

The day humanity failed was over in less than a minute.

It seemed the Unknown had exhausted its patience and finally unleashed It’s fury upon us, ending any other hopes of or thoughts of tempting this mystery. In a brilliant and glorious flash of radiant, blinding light, mountains enflamed, forests fell, buildings crumbled, monuments shattered, and the heavens laughed at our ignorance. Ideas and theories that had yet to be conceived would never surface. Loves and passions that could have flamed a lifetime would never be kindled from the festering ashes left behind by the Calamity. Dreams that might have defied a world would never leave the bodies that now lay strewn across the streets of a place once called home.


A throbbing pain in my shoulder made me open my eyes. The sun was blazing brightly, but there were no clouds above my head. I was on my back looking up where there was supposed to be a ceiling, but there wasn’t. Pushing the remains of the school off my sore body, I saw what had haunted my dreams for as long as our curiosity of the Unknown‘s had been present- a flat landscape. No hills. No trees. No cars that polluted the air. No mounds of dirt made by ants. Nothing.

That horizon was just one of the nightmares that came true that day. While the dead, dusted faces looked up at me as I passed by, I could remember every one of them- their names, their laughs, full of life and expectation. Some I knew well, and others…

They didn’t matter. They were gone, lost somewhere between a pictured heaven and a glimpsed hell. They meant nothing to me- I wasn’t close to them. I simply remembered them as they were, as they used to be. They weren’t family and family was all that mattered- was all that ever mattered. That’s why I was able to run past their grounded bodies without hesitation, because I was worried about family. I had prayed before, but not like this. I prayed hard. I prayed for Keira.

The school was leveled so I franticly searched my mind to remember where her class was. When I found it, I saw the chalkboard shattered- bits had landed on the students who would never learn. The teacher would never lead or instruct as their lifeless bodies lay facedown in the rubble. ‘No one could have survived this,’ I told myself. No one.

I heard movement in the corner of the room.

Jumping over the ruins of the building and bodies, I reached the sound and started pulling, digging, throwing away pieces of wall and desk from my hope that lay buried beneath. My hands became bloodied from the cuts from the metal and stone. Her hand feebly, loosely clung to mine as I lifted her from the debris. Her jeans and shirt were torn and dyed with a warm crimson liquid. Both of her legs fell awkwardly and bent unnaturally. Her bright and cheerful face was cut and blacked and dirtied and her hair was matted against her head and had lost its luster. Her body was limp as I held her in my shaking arms.


I met her emerald, tearful eyes with my own and for a moment we looked deep into each other. All the memories that we’d shared, all the times we had experienced together, all the love we had, passed through me like a movie that ended too soon. ‘Don’t you let her out of your sight,’ father and mother had told me. ‘She’s your responsibility. She’s your treasure.” As the film rolled, the memories formed tears and they fell like rain from the sky.

“What’s wrong?”

I forced a weak smile. “Nothing. Nothing’s wrong. Everything’s…everything’s just fine,” I said, fighting back the salty tears that lined my eyelids.

“Do you see them?”

I looked around, not seeing anything and yet, seeing everything as it was.

“No I don’t, Freckles. I don’t see anyone.”

“They’re so pretty. Their wings are so pretty. And they’re singing,” she coughed.

“What are they singing?”

She looked at me with her full eyes and said, “Our song.”

My lips began to twitch as I fought the quiver. I still don’t know why, but I started to sing the song she heard- the song that was ours’.

Hush little baby, don’t you cry.

Brother’s going to sing you a lullaby.

As I sang our special song, I could feel her

body growing cool to my touch and heavier to my hold. Kneeling to the dust and crumble, I carried on.

And if that mockingbird don’t sing,

Brother’s going to buy you a diamond ring.

She let one final breath escape her lips before her eyes clouded over. We looked into each others’ eyes until as her skin tightened and she slowly fell away and then was gone.

My capillaries screamed. My cry echoed in my ringing ears. “Look after your little sister,” they said. “She’s your responsibility,” they said, and I let them down- I let her down. “She’s your treasure,” they said, and I lost her. I let her die in my arms. I was too weak to save the only person I loved- the only person I ever needed in the world. I let her slip through my trembling, bleeding, rotting fingers.

I knelt there for the longest time, cradling my sister, rocking back and forth, forth and back, singing to no one and anyone who was willing to listen. Anger, fear, hatred, and apathy all swelled at once within me, unable to find an outlet. Broken, I was permanently broken.

Mark, Brit and Fitch found me later, whether that was a day later or a week, I didn’t care. I was still there, holding her- a testament to my frailty. I didn’t realize they were there till Brit, motherly put her hand on my shoulder.

“You ready to go?” she asked, trying to be strong for someone who was not.

For the first time, I pulled myself back to the nightmares of reality- the world’s destruction, the end of an absolute power that in it’s corruption, destroyed absolutely.

I stood, still carrying her. “Could you give me a sec?”

She smiled. “Ok, Sam. We’ll be right over there when you’re ready. We love you, ok,” and they all turned and walked away, leaving me to face the wake of my ruin, alone and isolated, just as it should have been.

Maybe this is what I deserved. All of my mistakes and sins had all of a sudden surfaced so quickly that I became numb to their existence because I had become so used to their presence. Maybe this was God telling me that I couldn’t do it anymore, that I had fought as long as I could on my own and now it was His turn to fight for me because I couldn’t defend myself anymore.

I looked around, saw the scared life for what it had become, saw what was left of home and was sad, not only for my lost, but for those like me who had lost as well.

I laid her back into the corner and made her grave out of what was around me. I found a piece of chalk and a shard of board and wrote:

Keira Folds

2004- 2011

The favorite of my family.

I set the reminder on top the mound of rubble, leaving it to stand the test of time – knowing it wouldn’t – accepted the fact that she was gone and said, “Goodbye Freckles.”

Then I turned and walked away, never once looking back. The past is dead, and with it a part of me lies dormant, never to be revisited, never to be forgotten, never to be relived. The wonderful paradox of loss.

We lived our lives realizing that the mystery would never be solved. Their ignorance caused this abomination and they died for it.

We were all that was left.

We were all that survived.

We will pick up the pieces they threw aside so carelessly and learn to live with the difference.

“Two roads diverged by a wood,

And I, I took the one less traveled by

And that has made all the difference.”

-Robert Frost.