Friday, December 28, 2012

Science-Fiction Short Story

It's... um, well, it's been two months.

Hi, anyway!

This is a (very) short story I wrote for school.  It was supposed to be an essay about a futuristic piece of equipment, but my tutor let me turn it into a dialogue.  It's a rather crazy piece; I believe it is also my first "Sci-fi."  I thought I'd share it with you all.  Enjoy!

Psychic Colloquy

One couldn’t help meeting a few odd people when working as a salesman, but Alex still didn’t think that dealing with hooded monks was in the job description.  No one was supposed to wear cloaks and hoods and tunic-y things—not in this millennium.  To boot, the clothes looked scratchy and—well, organic.  Alex had never seen wool before, but he wondered if he was seeing it now. 

Wearing this odd attire was a woman who looked to be in her early forties who had just walked through the door of the store.  Despite her conspicuous costume, the woman looked quite at her ease underneath her head of copious black hair.  She had sharp black eyes and a sharp nose and a sharp chin, and Alex was willing to hazard a guess that there were very sharp elbows underneath that cloak.

But a job’s a job.

“How can I help you?”      

The strange woman leaned forward, and for the first time Alex noticed that, on top of everything else, she was chewing on the end of a very long blade of grass.  “Well, I’m looking to add to a collection of mine, you see,” she began, and as she spoke she rested her elbows on the counter.  “What’s your name?”

“It’s Alex.”

Tilting her head, the woman asked, “Isn’t that a rather… archaic name, now?”  Alex shrugged in reply.  His customer continued in a conversational tone, “Because it can be a little confusing.  Just sometimes.”  She lowered her voice conspiratorially, “I’ve just come back from what used to be Italy.  Visiting abbeys.  Thirteenth century.  Amazing, those monks.  Just amazing.  I got some superb additions to my collection.”

Realization hit.  “You’re at time-traveler?” Alex asked.  “I thought they were still figuring out how that works.”

The woman immediately frowned and demanded, “What’s the date?”  Alex told her.  “Oh,” she nodded, “Don’t worry then, you still have about fifty years.

“Back to business,” she resumed briskly, “I collect technology from different periods; souvenirs, if you will.  And you look like the man who can sell me what I need.  So—what’s the latest fad?  What’s the newest wonder no one wants to live without?”

Alex stooped under the counter obligingly and fished up a few very small boxes.  “Psychic Colloquy,” he explained.

“Oh, I remember hearing of those!  Went out of fashion almost sixty years ago, those did.”  Alex knit his brow, but his customer didn’t notice.  “Aren’t they supposed to read your mind and send your thoughts to the ear of someone who’s also wearing one?”

Alex stepped into his salesman role.  “Yes.  But your friend will have his own unique number that the device sends your thoughts to, so any communication using the device is private.  These things are very hard to hack.”  He opened one of the boxes, gently taking out two small pieces of curiously-shaped plastic.  “How it works is: you take this one piece and tuck it behind your ear.  Then this other piece, the clear one, goes in your ear.  The one behind the ear is reading your thoughts and transmitting them, and the one in the ear is receiving transmissions.”

“But it obviously doesn’t read all of your thoughts.  How does that work?” 

“It can only read your most clear thoughts, the ones that are foremost in your mind and are actually put in words.  To send a transmission, you have to begin the thought with the name of the person you want to receive it, and conclude the transmission with ‘End message.’  There’s also a setting that lets you hear your message and revise it before it is sent.  To turn the device on or off, you have to think very clearly, ‘Psychic on,’ or ‘Psychic off.’”

“Like walkie-talkies, only you don’t have to speak out loud,” the time-traveler mused.


“Never mind.  So—I’m guessing spies like these types of things?”

Alex grinned “You bet.  We also get orders from the military, and it’s rather popular with celebrities who like to get tips from their staff offstage.  We even have a product line for kids—not recommended for use in school, of course.”

“Wouldn’t it be rather distracting if you’re using this Psychic Colloquy thingy and trying to have a normal, face-to-face conversation at the same time?”

“Well, it’s not recommended for that type of use.”

Recommended,” the woman mocked, the long blade of grass bobbing comically.  “What is it recommended for?”

“It was made to be reminiscent of ‘texting,’ which is a form of communication they had some decades ago.  While texting when driving was illegal, Psychic Colloquy doesn’t require the use of your hands.”

“Still sounds distracting to me.  Are there any glitches in how the gadget works?  No, let me rephrase that.  Have you had any law suits?”

Alex did his best to appear scandalized.  “I—”

“Come now, be honest!”

 “Some people believe the transmission waves are slowly radiating users’ brains,” he complied, blushing, “But we contend that the radiation is very minor, and we’re currently doing lab tests to prove that.” 

The grass blade dipped sharply, as if it doubted what the lab tests would prove.  “How do you think this mind-reading technology has changed the culture?  How has it impacted people’s mindsets?”

Alex lost it.  He said something no salesman ever should:  “Are you actually planning to buy this thing?”

The woman made a motion as if shooing a fly.  “Of course I’m buying it.  It’s for my collection; I don’t care whether it works or not.  Would you answer my question?”

Trying to hide his irritation, Alex replied, “The Psychic has been of great advantage to the military.  Among civilians, both news and gossip travels faster.  I suppose,” he paused, “I suppose, because spreading information is so easy, people don’t as carefully consider what they’re sharing.  But that’s life, isn’t it?”

“Sounds interesting enough,” his customer determined.  “What’s the price?”

The gadget was paid for and tucked under the time traveler’s arm.  “Ah,” she exclaimed, “Now I’ll be off to Ancient Egypt!  Thank you very much for your help.  Have a good day… what was your name?  Oh, yes, Alex.  Have a good day, Alex.  Good-bye!”  And she strode out the door, wool hood bouncing behind her.  Alex partially collapsed against the counter in exhaustion.

Well, he concluded, that’s what one got for talking to hooded monks.
Any comments? Really, any?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Panis de Deo

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me.  In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."
--John 14:1-3

Friday, November 30, 2012

Harry Potter: A Review

My apologies for not posting in the last week.  I don't have anything like a good excuse to offer, so I'll just shut up and get on with this book review...

So.  I've finally read some Harry Potter.  My brother and I have breezed through the first three books: The Philosopher's Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, and The Prisoner of Azkaban.  We enjoyed them pretty well.  So now it is time for me to attempt to give a balanced review.  This review is for the beginning of the series in general.  From what I've heard, things get darker as the series progresses.

HARRY POTTER REVIEW- the first three books, at least
Here is the link to the Squeaky Clean Review for the first book (you can find the others from there).
Disclaimer: I unashamedly write from a Christian perspective.

The best element of Harry Potter is the writing.  The plots are breath-taking.  You think you know who the bad guy is, and then BAM!  It's actually the last person you'd expect.  I giggled and laughed.  I was on the edge of my seat.  These are very hard books to put down.  There are no hanging threads in this series-- every single tiny event will be shown to be vital:  And if not in that book, then in the next.  I envy this writer's talent.
Another positive element is that Harry Potter's best protection from evil is love.  How many books have that, eh?  When Harry Potter is saved from the baddie the first time, it is because his mother loved him so much she let herself die instead of Harry, something Voldemort can't understand.  And that continues to play a large role through the series.

Well, there's the magic.  That's a major part of the stories, but I know it can digested by some people better than others, so I'm not going to condemn (nor discount) the magic right off the bat.  For me, I began to be disturbed in The Prisoner of Azkaban with the divination classes.  Even though the fortune-telling was shown to be phony, the palm-reading and such was still creepy to me.  More so than the whole the-dementors-will-suck-out-all-your-happy-thoughts-and-finally-your-soul thing, which I guess is odd.  In any case, Harry Potter is not for those who don't like wands and flying broomsticks in their stories.
On another note, the kids break the school rules constantly, even when the rules are obviously in place for the students' welfare.  They hardly ever get punished properly.  Then the reader is faced with the fact that the bad guy would probably never have been defeated if the children had not broken the rules.  Not the best way to set an example for the young people reading the books, is it?
Language wise, there's some uses of d--- and the Lord's name in vain.  At one point, a character starts to say an insult, but is cut off, and many readers' minds will fill it in as a Vulgar Name for Illegitimate Children.

Something interesting struck me while I was reading these books.  Despite all the magic, what a sad little world the characters inhabit.  Look how close their world is to disaster:  Voldemort is so powerful, and the only person who can defeat him is maybe Dumbledore or maybe Harry. 
And then it amazed me to see this contrasted with the real world:  Where the end of time is already written, and we can know Who wins!  Where our King can defeat Satan with one little word!  We write stories as a way to reflect God's Ultimate Story, but our little creations can only look deathly pale in the glory of His handiwork.  What an awesome God and what an awesome world we live in!

I've been putting off entering the world of Harry Potter for quite a while.  Now I might have a few friends saying to me, "See-- told you you would like them."
But, after all, I think it was a good idea (in my case) to wait until I felt ready to read the series with a level head.  I think I would recommend the first books if just to enjoy J.K. Rowling's incredible writing style.  But I seriously warn any reader to keep in mind that she is not a Christian, and her writing will reflect that.  We must "Test all things, [and] hold fast what is good." (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
So enjoy, but with caution.  (:

Oh, and-- well, a little late now, but Bookworm Day was yesterday.  November 29th is the combined birthdays of C.S. Lewis, Madeleine D'Engle, and Louisa May Alcott.  Have a bookworm-ish weekend, all!  God bless!
ps. Did Azkaban make anyone else think of Alcatraz? I mean, their names sound the same and they're both on islands...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Filling the Void

This is a paper I wrote for school and wanted to share.  The testimony is real.  It has been one of my favorite papers to write, as it let me discuss a subject I love to talk about:  The God-sized hole in our hearts.
Why Should We Want Jesus?

The month before I turned twelve, I was a mess.  Five months earlier my family had moved from the suburbs where we had lived for my whole life to a small town where the only people I knew were my grandmother and my uncle.  A decade’s worth of friendships had been pulled out from underneath my feet.  I didn’t fit into the new town as of yet, but I knew that my old life was left behind forever.  I felt pretty homeless.  Perhaps the biggest shock was to discover just how frail my settled, adjusted lifestyle had been.

I had been so comfortable in my established life I had been able to convince myself that I didn’t need God.  When that sense of security was blown apart by the move, I was faced with the fact that my life was empty and had always been empty.  And it would continue to be empty unless I let Jesus fill that void.

I know what it means to push away Christ and to pretend I don’t need Him.  I did not want Christ in my life.  Praise the Lord that “God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable!” (Romans 11:29)

Why do we need Jesus?  Why should we want Him interfering in our lives?  The Westminster Shorter Catechism attempts to answer this with its very first question:

Q:  What is the chief end of man?  

A:  Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Humans were wired since the beginning of time to need the strong presence of our Creator in our lives.  Without Him we are only shells of what we are meant to be.  To quote Saint Augustine, “Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.”

The psalmist writes, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”  (Psalms 42:1, 2)

C.S. Lewis adds, “All that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

When we exclude God from our lives, there is a void within in us that refuses to be filled by anything in this world.  It is a “God-sized hole” in our hearts, as some have called it.  We can pretend that it does not exist, but it is there.

Jesus came to earth to fill that emptiness.  Of believers, He says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:8, 10)

We should want Jesus—and through Him, God—because we need Jesus.  We were created to enjoy eternity with Him.  Our sin makes us dirty and creates a barrier between us and God’s holiness, but Jesus destroyed that barrier by taking the penalty for our sin on the cross.  Now, He again offers us the chance of spending eternity with Him.

And that is the true prize:  Not Heaven itself, per se, but to spend infinity in the company of our glorious Savior.  We do not want Heaven because of its golden streets, but because it is where our hearts are full.  We desire Heaven because of the presence of our God.

Because we were made to be with Him.


Please respect my work and don't steal it.  Thanks!
And sorry for some of the odd formatting -- sometimes this blog is wacky.  --Rachel

Monday, November 12, 2012

Panis de Deo

Just gorgeous, this passage.

               When my heart was grieved
                   and my spirit embittered,
                I was senseless and arrogant;
                   I was a brute beast before You.

               Yet I am always with You;
                   You hold me by my right hand.
               You guide me with Your counsel,
                   and afterward You will take me into glory.
               Whom have I in heaven but You?
                   And earth has nothing I desire besides You.
               My flesh and my heart may fail,
                   but God is the strength of my heart
                   and my portion forever.

--Psalm 73:21-26

Friday, November 9, 2012


I have found G.K. Chesterson.  The guy was awesome. 

“Love means to love that which is unlovable; or it is no virtue at all.”

--G.K. Chesterson

Monday, November 5, 2012

Panis de Deo

               He gives strength to the weary
                   and increases the power of the weak.
               Even youths grow tired and weary,
                   and young men stumble and fall;
               but those who hope in the Lord
                   will renew their strength.
               They will soar on wings like eagles;
                   they will run and not grow weary,
                   they will walk and not be faint.
--Isaiah 40:29-31