I Have Found It — A Short Story

“I Have Found It”

Around Eureka, people rise to leave.*

Her head bowed in prayer, Eureka ignored them.

She heard the voices coming from the foyer begin to fade. She heard the priest close the foyer’s doors. She heard nothing from the priest as he returned to his changing room behind the altar. She saw the church’s lights shut off.

Rising, Eureka left the pew, walking to the foyer’s double doors. Opening the door on the right, she took a right across the foyer, to the bathroom. Seeing that the bathroom door was partially open, she opened it farther before slipping inside, turning on the light, and closing it behind her.

Eureka undressed. In her underwear, as she was folding her pants, she remembered the paper. Pausing to see if the folded piece of paper was still in her right pocket, she resumed folding her pants. Finishing undressing, her folded clothes in a pile in the middle of the floor, she went to the door.

Opening the door an inch in order to make sure that there was no one in the foyer, Eureka opened the door all the way once she saw that the coast was clear. Turning off the bathroom light before crossing the foyer once again, opening the door on the right once again, and entering the church once again.

Naked and alone, Eureka walked down the aisle.

Her bare feet on marble was the only sound.

Shaking as much from fear as from the cold, Eureka took slow, deep breaths in order to calm herself.

She could just make out the painting, illuminated by candles, above the altar. A painting of the three aspects of God. Eureka imagined they were speaking to her.

The Father: “How dare you!”

The Mother: “Whore!”

The Child: “Why?”

Not slowing, stopping, or turning around, Eureka made it to the pew closest to the altar.

Gingerly easing herself into the pew in order to not touch a surface with her butt, Eureka put her elbows on the low wooden wall that separated the altar from the congregation, knelt, bowed her head, and clasped her hands in prayer.

“God…” she whispered. “See me. Just. See me. I know you must not like this, but… I wanted to do this. I felt I needed to do this. Even if you hated me, I needed you to see me. And I… I needed to see you.”

***

Eureka sat in a booth, enjoying the bar food that was her father’s gift on her 21st birthday.

Giving her a moment to think about it as she took a drink of her water, he asked a question.

“Are you ready for your last final?”

Eureka answered. “As ready as I can be. Now I feel like all I can do is roll the dice.”

Her father smiled. “You’ll do great. Your mother and I are proud of you.”

“Thanks. I’m glad for this opportunity — to be here. I’ve learned a lot about myself.”

“Like what?”

“Being an editor is hard. It’s nothing like I thought it would be.”

Her father took a drink of his beer, steeling himself for the question he dreaded.

“You have a back-up plan?”

“I’m working on it.”

Putting his left hand on the table, Eureka grasped it.

She was looking him in the eye when he said: “Your mother and I are thankful you waited. I know it must not have been easy living at home while your brother finished school.”

Eureka shook her head, appalled. “No. I knew you and mom could only do so much. I didn’t want to put pressure on you. Plus, I needed time. I wasn’t ready to make the leap from high school to college yet.”

“Thank you for thinking of us.”

“Yeah. You’ve done so much for me, and I want to do what I can for you.”

“No matter what, Eureka, you’ll always be our miracle child.”

She withdrew her hand.

“Dad–”

“Really. The doctors told us you wouldn’t make it. For the longest time, we couldn’t decide on a name. But when the doctors found that you would make it, as the saying goes: ‘The rest is history.’”

“‘You’ve been given a second chance,’ you’d say when I was younger. And I want to be worthy of that second chance.”

Eureka’s father could see that his daughter still had a habit of absentmindedly rubbing the inside of her forearms.

“Eureka–”

“I know you and mom say I have nothing to prove. But I wouldn’t be much of a ‘miracle child’ if I disappointed you, would I?”

“Eureka… I have to ask: How do you think you did this semester?”

***

The first awake that day in her on-campus apartment, Eureka sat on the floor in her pajamas just outside her open bedroom door with her arms wrapped around her legs and her head against her knees….

***

Eureka sat at her desk in her bedroom, her eyes widening in shock when she realized that the letter she had received was from her academic adviser….

***

Not looking him in the eye, Eureka answered her father’s question.

“Not good.”

***

Eureka sat at the dinner table, frowning at her laptop.

On the laptop’s screen was the Employment page on the public library’s website. This summer, there were no positions currently available.

Next to Eureka stood her mother, reading a letter. A letter from Eureka’s college.

“Seven thousand dollars, Eureka! How do you expect to pay this? Because there’s only so much your father and I can do now.”

Despite a gesture at her laptop, Eureka refused to blame technology. “I’m doing everything I can! You know that!”

Not wanting to hear any more, with a shake of her head, Eureka’s mother walked away.

In shock at seeing her so upset, Eureka reached into her right pants pocket and pulled out her cell phone.

Scrolling through her contact list, Eureka abruptly stopped as she came to a name: Theo.

“…it must not have been easy living at home while your brother finished school.”

She resumed scrolling.

She called a number.

“Lyra? It’s Eureka.”

***

Eureka raised her bowed head, trying to see, through her tears, the painted faces of the Father, Mother, and Child.

“I want to know that I’m enough,” she whispered. “I want to know that I was worth it to you. That I was worth saving.”

Sniffling, Eureka unclasped her hands and looked at the scars on the inside of her forearms.

***

Nude, Eureka sat in a chair in the middle of Lyra’s living room.

Across from her, on the couch, clothed, sat Lyra. Drawing.**

Tightening her grip on the chair’s armrests, Eureka fought the urge to flinch.

Eureka imagined that every time Lyra’s pencil made contact with paper, she was being cut with a knife. The knife exposing Eureka’s regret and fear as it lay her bare.

Glancing down at her front, Eureka imagined herself covered in bleeding cuts.

The blood turning her white skin red, Eureka remembered her father’s words to her.

“Miracle child.”

The blood running down her skin made Eureka think of worms.*** Worms crawling out of an open grave.

Eureka imagined worms crawling out of her cuts and, in horror, drew in her breath sharply.

“Eureka, please don’t move.”

“Sorry.”

Eureka re-focused on Lyra, who continued drawing.

***

Narrowing her eyes, putting the pencil’s eraser to her lips and holding her sketchbook in front of her at arm’s length, Lyra was silent as Eureka sat still.

A moment later, she lowered her pencil and sketchbook.

“All done,” Lyra said with a smile.

Eureka sighed with relief.

“Thank you.”

“Thank you for allowing me to draw you. My Best Friend. That’s what I’m calling it. I think it turned out good.”

“Can I see it?”

Lyra nodded.

***

Tears drying on her cheeks, Eureka stood, in order to try and see God’s faces more clearly.

Feeling exposed, she took a step backward and, with the wood of the pew against her skin, was comforted by the knowledge that there was something solid at her back.

Suddenly, Eureka felt lips close around her right nipple.

Looking down, Eureka saw a naked little girl standing on her tiptoes, suckling. Her hands on Eureka’s breast for balance.****

Their eyes meeting, the girl pulled away. She burped and giggled.

Staring at the girl licking her lips, then at her wet breast, Eureka uttered the first word that came to mind: “What…?”

Bright eyes set in a blushing face found Eureka’s once again.

“Go- goo- good,” the girl said, as if she had just learned to speak.

Recoiling, Eureka pointed to herself. “M-me?”

The girl nodded.

***

Eureka got up from the chair to come and see Lyra’s drawing of her.

“One look at you today and I thought I’ve found it! And now you can keep ‘it.’”

Bending over, Eureka looked at the drawing.

She was speechless.

The drawing’s face radiated an inner peace Eureka did not believe that she herself had. On the drawing’s face was an expression that said “This will all be over soon.”

“What do you think?”

“It’s me…. It’s just not my life.”*****

“What do you mean?” said Lyra, concerned.

Eureka tapped the paper and looked at her.

“I haven’t found what you saw.”

***

Wanting to say more to her, Eureka got on her knees so that she could be closer to the girl.

Before she could say anything, the girl lie on her stomach, resting her head on Eureka’s thighs as if they were pillows.

Eureka felt a peace that she had never felt before. It emanated from the girl like body heat.

The girl blinked sleepily.

A single word was spoken as, reminded of Lyra’s drawing, Eureka watched the Child close her eyes.

“Good.”

The End

*One of the inspirations for Eureka was the character of the same name in my favorite anime series: Eureka Seven.

**The character of Lyra was inspired by Ursula from Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989).

***The words “The blood running down her skin made Eureka think of worms,” were inspired by these words during the Red Wedding in George R.R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords:

“Slow red worms crawled along her arms and under her clothes.”

****The Child drinking milk from Eureka’s breast was inspired by Saint Anthony of Padua holding the baby Jesus.

*****The words “It’s me…. It’s just not my life,” were inspired by these words in my favorite novel: Armor, by John Steakley:

“It was her. It just wasn’t her life.”

A few final things:

Thank you to fellow blogger sunshine lou. She inspired me to write “I Have Found It” and was one of the inspirations for the character of Eureka, too. The final two influences being myself — Eureka’s experiences are partly based on my own — and Kiki, from the 1989 film Kiki’s Delivery Service. Lou also inspired my poem “The Wild Witch” and the still-being-written short story “Wild Child.” (The reason the woman in the poem is a witch is because, just before I wrote it, I had been talking to a woman who is a witch, and so had witches on my mind. I’m thankful for the insight into Paganism that she gave me.)

I’ve realized lately that I can be a chatterbox. I tend to talk even after, judging by their silence, others are just done. And so, even though “I Have Found It” was posted days ago, I was hesitant to thank Lou because I didn’t want to do to her what I imagine I have done to others: Cause them to think Ugh. This guy again? I don’t say this in order to criticize Lou in any way. She’s a good person, and she should do what is best for herself regardless of how it might make me feel. I say this just to express my thoughts on my tendency to talk and talk and talk.

I am thanking Lou now in order to give her the credit she deserves for making this story possible.

And:

Thank you to Free to See. Months ago, when I started writing this story, there was a suicide sub-plot. Eureka was to have attempted suicide at a point in her past. After a conversation with Free to See though, I realized that, when it came to writing about a complex subject such as suicide, I wasn’t “there” yet — I couldn’t do the subject justice. So “I Have Found It” underwent a change: Instead of having attempted suicide, Eureka’s feelings stemmed from her feeling inadequate. I believe my story is better for it. (I re-discovered Free to See after, one day, going through WordPress and un-following inactive and/or — I now realize — inappropriate blogs. I’m still following Free to See.)

And:

Thank you to the beautiful woman whose picture I used in this post.

And:

Months ago, I wrote a series of posts with the title “I Have Found It.” Those posts, for the time being, have been privated. The reason why is: I’m currently figuring out what to do with them. If those posts were “I Have Found It, 1.0,” this post is “I Have Found It, 2.0.”

And:

The creation story of Eureka’s faith.

And:

Naked and Nude: What’s the Difference?

Finally:

Thank you for reading my story. I hope you liked it.

Feedback is always appreciated.

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The Gate – A Short Story

It came for her in the shower.

The quickening in her womb could not keep pace with the quickening of her heart as, her back against the wall, she felt him enter her.

Semen and water. Running down, down, and out. Down her thighs, down the drain, and out of her life.

Life…

This was how it started, she thought, saying nothing. Seeing nothing. One hand on her ever-expanding middle. The other against the back of his neck. Old habits die hard.

Determined to give as good as she got, she opened her eyes.

Lips puckered for kissing, her mouth expanded into a silent scream as, through the steam, she saw it.

He did not.

Screaming for a very different reason, he never felt the alien’s mouth enter the back of his skull and exit through his own.

“I love your big brain!” she said yesterday.

Today, she felt that big brain, and bits of little bone, hit her in the face, along with pieces of broken glass, as her headless husband dropped.

In shock, she ceased feeling the water against her skin. But she was all too aware of her water against her skin. Feeling the baby kick, she knew that more than a shower door had broken…

Wet and black, the alien’s tail slid up her leg, higher and higher, until it took the place of her husband’s penis.

Inexplicably thinking of her last meal, she imagined the alien lifting. Lifting her baby out of her womb like he was soup in a ladle.

But if the alien’s tail is a ladle, and my son is soup, I’m the tureen.

The ship’s tureen was made of metal.

Metal was strong.

And so was she.

Snatching a piece of broken glass off the floor, ignoring the pain as it dug into her palm, she become one with her husband one more time as, their blood mingling, she kicked off from the wall, aiming for the alien’s face.

Her aim was true.

Biting back a scream as the alien’s acid blood ran down her arm, she ran past it, slipping on the floor before she could get clear.

The baby!

The floor rushing to meet her, she threw out her hands, breaking her fall at the last second. Then she was out.

Naked and alone, the blood-red emergency lights were her guardian angels. Heed them, and she would find salvation.

The smack of her wet feet on metal echoed into the silence as she ran and ran and ran.

She ran until, doubling over to suck in breath, she swore that the only thing left inside her was, judging by a second kick, fighting to get out.

But: She now stood before the pearly gates.

Judgement Day.

Her hand leaving a red smear as she opened one and looked longingly at the other, she had enough time to wonder How long? before she did not have to wonder anymore.

Hot on her heels, it had come.

Inexorable. Not invincible.

As she proved as, careening past her in its blind, furious hunger, she pressed a button before its eyeless face saw the error of its ways, sealing it behind one pearly gate and in front of a second.

The second pearly gate opening, naked and alone is how the alien faced the cold vacuum of space as it was sucked out the airlock.

Her cry of joy froze in her throat, turning into a scream of pain as, sitting on the floor, she opened a third gate.

This gate had no pearls.

She was, after all, a modest woman.

Thank you for reading.

This short story was inspired by fellow blogger Soul Healing. Thank you for discussing Defiance with me. 🙂

Thank you, George R.R. Martin. The scene of the woman breaking her fall in order to protect her baby was inspired by a scene in A Game of Thrones where (SPOILER) Daenarys is attacked by Khal Drogo’s bloodriders while trying to save his life.

This short story is a different take on the shower scene in Alien: Covenant (2017).

Thank you, Ridley Scott, for the “Alien” series.

The College Dropout Survival Guide

Note: Thank you to TheOriginalPhoenix. Her post Self-Care Isn’t Selfish is what inspired me to write this post.

It’s now been 3 years since I made the choice to come home after my second semester of university.

Bad grades, combined with not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, made me realize I need time to get my head on straight.

Coming home was a choice that almost killed me.

So, in this post, I want to share with you what I have done in order to keep myself motivated to get out of bed in the morning:

Get a job. I initially balked at the prospect of getting a job. But I knew I had to do it — I knew that I didn’t want to spend my life on the couch, living off the charity of others. So, despite the grumbling of that lazy, entitled, refuse-to-take-responsibility part of myself, when a job opportunity presented itself I jumped at it. And I am so glad I did. Sure, my work could use improvement. More than once, my boss has expressed disappointment at my performance. But, I keep at it. And I figure that as long as the paychecks keep coming, than I must be doing something right.

I’m not at Kiki levels of productivity…

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Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

…but I’m getting there.

Plus, if nothing else: My job allowed me to have enough money to get an Xbox One after my Xbox 360 got the Red Ring of Death.

Have a spiritual life. If you’re spiritual/religious than, if you don’t already, get in the habit of praying at least twice a day — a prayer before you go to sleep and a prayer right after you wake up.

Even if it’s only 5 seconds long and consists of two words — “Hi, (insert name of higher power here).” — praying will do you good.

As the name of my blog implies, I’m a Catholic. I was raised in the Catholic faith and, so far, my faith hasn’t let me down.

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Star Wars (1977)

Realize that you aren’t alone. Chances are that if you’re reading this post, you’re in a similar position: You’re not in college and are wondering What the deuce do I do now?

Well, one of the ways to not despair is to know that you aren’t struggling alone. There are people who have gone through, or are going through, what you are, and either they need you to help them, you need their help, or both.

After all: In order to slay the Kaiju that is Despair, you can’t do it alone…

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Pacific Rim (2013)

(I picked Crimson Typhoon because, even though it does get destroyed, I think it’s the coolest Jaeger.)

Surround yourself with beautiful things. I don’t know about you, but: The 24-hour news cycle of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, presidential incompetence, rapes, and murders depresses me. It makes me ask the one question I never want to find myself asking: Should I keep on living?

So, what do I do? I focus on the good in life instead.

For example:

Instead of scratching my head over Donald Trump’s latest tweet…

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…I listen to my favorite song instead:

It’s much more relaxing.

Do what you love. I’m currently teaching myself how to write screenplays.

I’m doing this because I discovered that, in my free time, I would frequently read film reviews. There was just something about the reviews by Steven Greydanus and Jeffrey Overstreet that hooked me. That kindled within me a passion for film. A passion to not just critique art, but create it. Because anyone can criticize. But not everyone can create.

Lately that passion to create has, unfortunately, been fueled by anger at the incompetence of fellow Christian film enthusiasts…

…reviewers are sadly out of touch with ticket buyers. In fact, they are so far out of touch that most of them pick only one blockbuster movie, and many mediocre “independent” movies and boring foreign language movies that appeal to only a few moviegoers.
~WAR ROOM’s A+ cinemascore tells the story

…but still: I’m glad to be doing something I love. Even if it can be hard.

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And:

Love yourself.

You’re not perfect.

You’ve failed before, and you’re going to fail again.

But is that going to be the end of you?

No.

Why?

Because: You love yourself, flaws and all.

You know that what you have to offer the universe is unique.

And you know that it’ll be a cold day in Hell before you let life get away with sucker-punching you.

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How I Decided To Not Commit Suicide

Note: Language.

Earlier today, I was feeling low.

I realized I didn’t meet the standards to get into the college I’d wanted to go to and, to add insult to injury, I learned that my financial situation wouldn’t allow me to go to that college in the first place, leaving me once again stranded in Limbo for the time being.

Not the cool, do-anything-you-want Limbo from Inception (2010)…

…the nightmarish “SB-129” Limbo:

With my future looking bleak, my mind went to dark places. Thoughts of suicide popped into my head, and I just let them be — I didn’t make an effort to drive them away.

After letting such morbid thoughts have their time in the sun, I feel that I was able to think more clearly — I feel that there was a method to my madness. After my mind went through every dark scenario it could think of, the light was able to come in.

I realized that I didn’t want to die. I realized that what I really wanted was just for the pain to end. The pain of knowing that my future is looking nothing like I wanted it to look 3 years ago: before I attended a 4-year college for 1 year and spent the next 2 on the couch.

A number of factors snapped me out of my suicidal funk:

I wouldn’t go through with it. There’s a difference between what a person can do and what a person will do.

It would be selfish. I imagined how my family would react, and I realized that making the choice to take my own life is a selfish one. Why? Because I would be putting people I love through terrible pain for the sake of trying to escape my own pain.

I realized I didn’t actually want to die. To reiterate: After letting dark scenarios run through my mind, I realized that I didn’t want to die — I just wanted my pain to end.

My beliefs. Suicide is considered a sin by the Catholic Church. I didn’t want to risk ending up in Hell.*

Beauty. If anime has taught me one thing, it’s to appreciate the beauty of this world that God has made.

When we create, we are, in our own little ways, doing what God does. J.R.R.Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings, called this “sub-creation”: Creating secondary worlds inside of God’s primary world.

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And: It might be embarrassing and weird, but it’s true:

I thought of that shot of Yolko’s butt in the Sword Art Online episode “Murder in the Safe Zone,” and that was another reminder of beauty, too.

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I wasn’t glad I thought of that shot because of anything having to do with sex. (Lust is a sin that I try and avoid like the plague.) I was glad I thought of that shot because, like the world that God has created…

Image result for the milky way

…I see it as another example of beauty that I realized I didn’t want to see the end of.

What I’m trying to say is: There is so much beauty in the world, and I didn’t want to see the end of it by taking my life.

Suicide is not how I’m dying. Everyone dies eventually. And earlier today I decided that since I must die, I’m going to die in such a way that will be worthy of the good life I (hope to) have lived. I don’t know how or when I’m going to die, but I hope it’s in a way that makes God go “And that’s why I made Tim! Fuck yes!”

In conclusion:

I’m doing better now.

Praying, giving myself time to think more about my situation, spending time with my parents and kids from my local Catholic school’s youth group, video games, and music, did wonders for me.

Suicide is a complex and hard subject to talk about.

If anything I said in this post offended or upset you for any reason, let me know, and I apologize, because it wasn’t my intent to do that.

*On a related note: The only sin that God won’t forgive is the sin you don’t ask forgiveness for.
If someone you know has committed suicide, pray for the salvation of that person’s soul, and your prayers will not be in vain.

Need Evidence That Good Will Triumph Over Evil? Look At A Woman’s Butt

Evidence: The available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.

Fascination: Draw irresistibly the attention and interest of (someone).

God saw all he had made, and it was very good.
~Genesis 1:31

The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
~Genesis 2:22 — 23

The Shadow…can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own.
~J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Note: This post is not an apologia for gawking, fantasizing, and/or jerking off. Those things are not groovy.

On a side note: This is groovy:

As a Catholic, I believe that the Devil exists.

But the Devil isn’t a being on par with God.

God and the Devil aren’t two titans locked in a desperate battle to the death.

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Godzilla (2014)

The Devil was one of God’s angels. Before he decided that he wanted to do what he wanted, when he wanted, where he wanted, how he wanted, to whoever, or whatever, he wanted.

The best way I can think of to describe the Catholic Church’s view of the Devil, is this scene from SpongeBob:

We human beings (SpongeBob) are panicking and despairing because the Devil (Plankton) is running rampant. But God (Mr. Krabs) is not daunted. God walks right up to the Devil and, merely by reaching out his hand, is able to put an end to his scheme.

God could swat the Devil like a fly, but He doesn’t.

Why?

To quote J.R.R. Tolkien again:

Iluvatar’s (God’s) words to the Ainur (angels) after Melkor’s (the Devil’s) failed rebellion in The Silmarillion:

…no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.

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The reason I say all of this is:

This shot:

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Sword Art Online

An awkward shot of Yolko’s butt.

Why is the shot awkward? Because: What is the camera doing there?

Anime is a visual storytelling medium. What about the story is being conveyed to us, the viewer, by having the camera be where it is?

I believe the easiest answer to these questions, unfortunately, is:

Sword Art Online is an anime aimed at teenage boys. Is it surprising that there would be a shot of a woman’s butt?”

The reason I say “unfortunately” is:

I believe shots like the one above can cause a person to lust. And lust can make a person do, to put it lightly, bad things.

With lust, the Devil is twisting a person’s fascination with the opposite sex. Twisting Adam’s words of love for Eve:

Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.*

Despair3
Photo by Tereshkovets

But: Despite the temptation to lust — the temptation to see people as a means of attaining pleasure, not as human beings — our fascination with the opposite sex is still, to quote Genesis 1:31, “very good.” It’s just not as good as it could be, because of this imperfect world we live in. (Genesis 3:7)

Adam and Eve7

The Devil will use what God has created to try and get us to lust and, thus, be separated from Him because of that sin.

But: Despite the Devil’s efforts to tempt us, what God has created is still inherently good.

What you feel when you look at a shot like this…

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…is evidence that, despite the imperfect nature of the world, God’s creation still causes perfectly natural fascination.

And fascination with the beauty of the female body can lead a person closer to the creator of that beauty.

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That is how a woman’s butt is evidence of the eventual triumph of Good over Evil.

…a woman’s breasts, hips, bottom, and lips all proclaim the glory of the Lord! Each womanly part honors Him. He created the female body, and it is good.
~Sharon Hodde Miller

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*I’m not saying that lust is something only men struggle with. I know women struggle with lust, too. I just used Adam’s words about Eve as an example of our fascination with the opposite sex: something the Devil tries to twist.

What Would Eureka Do?

Having written a story, while reading, do you ever find yourself wondering What would my character do in that situation?

I’ve been re-reading The Hunger Games lately and, I don’t know why, but I keep thinking What would Eureka do in Katniss’ situation?

Eureka is the protagonist of a short story I wrote: “I Have Found It.”

Eureka’s defining act is her getting naked in a church. It’s the act that drives the story.

Undressing, it’s not just her skin that Eureka exposes…

But, what does getting naked have to do with fighting a battle to the death? I think.

“Where the Dead Go to Die” — First Impressions

Having been bitten by the horror bug once again, tonight I found myself in the mood for a scary story, and looked up one I heard about 2 years ago: Where the Dead Go to Die (2012). A horror anthology about children who are taken to Hell by a demon dog.

Having heard that Where the Dead Go is one of the most graphic, horrifying anything ever…

…my curiosity was piqued.

Turns out, my curiously needn’t have bothered. Where the Dead Go is awful in ways it isn’t trying to be.

For starters: The demon dog’s voice is nails-on-a-chalkboard annoying. Watching it tempt a little boy, all I could think of is Kindergarten Cop (1990):

One thing that makes demons creepy is that they tell you what you want to hear in a way you want to hear it.

What father wants to kill his daughter?

But this?

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I’d rather staple my ears shut than listen to this he-bitch for more than 5 seconds.

Second: Where the Dead Go is an eyesore.

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A YouTube comment put it well: “This is like ReBoot on acid.”

But ReBoot — being the first computer animated TV series — has an excuse for its (by today’s standards) poor animation.

Where the Dead Go, having been made in 2012, has no excuse.

This is how far animation had progressed… by 2008:

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WALL-E

If the creator of Where the Dead Go didn’t care enough about his work to make it look the best it could, than why should I care at all?

Finally: Nothing means anything.

If what I’ve read is true, the “horrifying” events in Where the Dead Go are just there for the sake of being there; there’s no deeper meaning to anything that I’m seeing.

When I read that what I’m seeing is just there for the sake of being there, I feel like I’m being trolled.

To go back to Evil Dead (2013): One aspect of that film that I like is that aspects of the story are left up to the viewer’s interpretation. The film isn’t just blood and gore for the sake of blood and gore.

In conclusion:

“Worthless” is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Where the Dead Go.

I could be playing Doom right now. But I just had to talk about Where the Dead Go

Thankfully, that’s a mistake I don’t have to live with.

I’m off to “Rip and tear, until it is done.”

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Nudist Fiction: My Dilemma

I’ve realized that my “___-Word Story” series doesn’t mean anything. It’s the literary equivalent of a sugar rush: brief satisfaction followed by a feeling of What did I just do?

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To go into more detail:

One of the subjects I write about on this blog is nudity.

Specifically: Nudists. I write stories about people who go naked, and have written about the times that I myself have gone naked.

The reason why is: I find people who go naked fascinating.

The reason why is: “Wear clothes” is a near-universal rule in any family and any society. And yet, such people say “No.”

I don’t see nudists as rebels. But, such peoples’ choice to go without clothes goes against the grain. And I want to know what drives a person to make such a choice, and what they learn about themselves, others, and the world around them, as a result of being naked.

Only, I often find myself disappointed. I get the impression that a number of people only go naked in order to more easily pleasure themselves sexually.

That’s where I come back to me writing about nudity: I feel like I’m writing stories for a reason that is equally shallow.

For example: My most recent story:

The night I sleep naked, I am told, “You sleepwalk.”

Reading those words again, I think What does that even mean?

Nothing.

At least, not to me.

sigh

Looking back on all my writing about nudity over the years, “I Have Found It” is the one piece I can honestly say I am proud of.

Everything else just… bleh. It doesn’t feel right.

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I want to do right by people who choose to go naked.

It’s my duty as a Catholic to see the humanity in all people, regardless of what they are or aren’t wearing:

“‘Whatever you did to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did to me.’”
~ Matthew 25:40

And, ultimately, I don’t see that happening when it comes to 99.9% of my writing on nudity.

Change is coming.

By the grace of God, it will be the change I need. Whatever that may be.

On a final note:

Thank you to the beautiful woman who made the photo used in this post possible.

What A Witch Taught Me About The Virgin Mary

Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: [It] is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin – an inclination to evil that is called “concupiscence.” Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle. (Emphasis mine.)
~ Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 405

As a Catholic, one aspect of my faith that I struggle with is the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.

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It’s not fair, I’ve thought more than once. If God can just create people free from Original Sin, like Mary, and thus spare them the possibility of ending up in a place like Hell, why doesn’t He do that for everyone?

I know God is love. I know God has a plan. But still: I look at all the horror in the world…

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…and think Can God do nothing?

I’ll struggle with these questions all my life.

But, lately, I’ve found something that makes the struggle more bearable: Witchcraft. Specifically: Kiki, from Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989).

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Kiki helps me to understand what it can mean for a person to be free from sin.

Having recently re-watched Kiki’s Delivery Service, there is only one instance I can remember where Kiki committed an act that could be called a “sin.” She disobeys a cop, running away from him upon being told to stay put after causing an accident. But the accident was just that — an accident. And after the cop dashed off to pursue a thief, there was no telling when he’d be back. Or if he’d even be back at all. She does avoid a police car she sees driving through the park. But, other than taking a page out of Johnny’s playbook…

…Kiki is a law-abiding citizen. As free from imperfection as Mary.

I often imagined Mary as emotionless, mindlessly going through one aspect of God’s plan to the next because there was nothing keeping her from doing otherwise. Mary was a puppet, and God was pulling her strings.

But, as a result of Kiki, I no longer think such a thing. I believe the absence of sin doesn’t mean the absence of one’s humanity (i.e., one’s emotions, feelings, and intellect). What it means is the perfection of one’s humanity; one’s humanity being directed toward that which will do the most good for all.

I think of my favorite scene in the film. Kiki goes to an old woman’s house in order to deliver a birthday present to her granddaughter. Only to find that, because of a broken oven, the potpie has not been baked and, thus, there is no delivery to make. Saddened that the delivery girl came all this way for nothing, Madame asks her maidservant to pay Kiki anyway. Not feeling that it is right to take money from a person she has done nothing for, Kiki insists on baking Madame’s gift in an older, long-neglected oven instead.

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It is her desire to help others, and her insistence on a job well done, that drive Kiki to go above and beyond the call of duty. “A desire to help others” and “An insistence on a job well done” being qualities that I believe anyone, regardless of their beliefs or absence of beliefs, would praise. Such qualities are examples of human nature at its best. In such a situation, who wouldn’t want to be Kiki?

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“Your mother must be proud.”

I believe Mary is the same way. She goes above and beyond the call of duty for the sake of the well-being of others.

Upon being told that God would impregnate her, Mary’s reaction was not…

…it was: “Let it be done to me according to your will.” (Luke 1:38)

To me, Mary always seemed alien and unapproachable. How could I even begin to have any kind of relationship with such a person? Every word I read about her, I felt like she was rubbing her perfection in my face. Scolding me for not being just like her. As a result, my feelings for Mary turned from revulsion, to jealously, to anger.

But no more. Through Kiki, I believe I can better see how Mary lives.

When I was little, God was there and wonderfully granted my dream.
On mornings when I wake up with kindly feelings, even though I’ve grown up, miracles happen!
Opening the curtain, tranquil sunlight filtering through the trees.
If it envelopes me in tenderness, surely everything reflected in my eyes will be a message.
When I was little, God was there and every day he delivered love.
Inside my heart, I had forgotten my precious box of good memories.
The time to open it is now.
An English translation of “If I’ve Been Enveloped In Tenderness”

Responding To Richard Dawkins: Part 2

The Closet Atheist‘s 31 favorite quotes from The God Delusion, and my first thoughts upon reading each them.

Part 2: 17 — 31

“Do people never open the book that they believe is the literal truth? Why don’t they notice these glaring contradictions?” p. 94

81 “Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.”42

“And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching.”43

82 As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, “does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.”44
~ Catechism of the Catholic Church

All of this is to say that, as a Catholic: While I do believe that the Bible is Truth, it is not the only source of Truth. Like a male and a female, Scripture and tradition make no sense on their own but, together, make more sense. And the “contradictions” in Scripture, like the fact that no one is perfect, don’t take away from the beauty and truth that results when two become one…

Woman1

“It is an essential part of the scientific enterprise to admit ignorance, even to exult in ignorance as a challenge to future conquests.” p. 125

“One of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.” p. 126

I’ll do these two at the same time.

On the one hand, Richard Dawkins, you say that, when it comes to the study of nature, it is “essential” to admit ignorance, even exult in it — take it as a challenge.

But then you lament that, when it comes to one’s study of God, a person could ever be satisfied with not understanding something.

It sounds like you’re essentially saying “Ignorance for me but not for thee.”

Which makes you sound like a hypocrite.

And why would I listen to a hypocrite?

“. . . Design certainly does not work as an explanation for life, because design is ultimately not cumulative and it therefore raises bigger questions than it answers – it takes us straight back along the . . . ultimate regress.” p. 141

To look through a telescope or a microscope in the hope of one day declaring “There is no God” is like trying to disprove the existence of a woman by studying her newborn baby.

On another note: The Catholic Church’s take on life and where life comes from.

“Some educated individuals may have abandoned religion, but all were brought up in a religious culture from which they had to make a conscious decision to depart. The old Northern Ireland joke, ‘Yes, but are you a Protestant atheist or a Catholic atheist?’ is spiked with bitter truth.” p. 166

I agree.

“The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.” p. 167, George Bernard Shaw

I agree.

“A great deal of the opposition to the teaching of evolution has no connection with evolution itself, or with anything scientific, but is spurred on by moral outrage.” p. 211

I agree.

“If you agree that, in the absence of God, you would ‘commit robbery, rape, and murder’, you reveal yourself as an immoral person, ‘and we would be well advised to steer a wide course around you.’” p. 227 (quoted partially from Michael Shermer)

I agree.

“To be fair, much of the Bible is not systematically evil but just plain weird. . .” p. 237

To quote Bob Dylan: “Don’t criticize what you can’t understand.”

“Why should a divine being, with creation and eternity on his mind, care a fig for petty human malefactions? We humans give ourselves such airs, even aggrandize from our poky little ‘sins’ to the level of cosmic significance!” p. 238

Why should a divine being care about humanity?

You just said why: because he’s got creation and eternity on his mind.

And if a cosmic being does care about us, is it not logical for us to care about our “sins” that offend him?

“It is, when you think about it, remarkable that a religion should adopt an instrument of torture and execution as its sacred symbol, often worn around the neck.” p. 251

Here is something to supplement your thinking.

“The idea that baptizing an unknowing, uncomprehending child can change him from one religion to another at a stroke seems absurd – but it is surely not more absurd than labeling a tiny child as belonging to any religion in the first place.” p. 315

What about labeling that same child an atheist? Is that not “absurd” as well?

And if a child, through the use of their reason and as a result of their own research, one day says “I believe there is a god,” will you see them as “absurd”? Because, if you will — if, in your eyes, everyone who is not a non-believer is a fool — I fail to see this decency that you claim to have as an atheist since, to you, everyone who is not an atheist is a lesser human being; absurd, as opposed to not absurd.

“The faithful are encouraged to profess belief, whether they are convinced by it or not. […]” p. 352-53

Having attended church every weekend of my life (when I wasn’t sick or otherwise not able to make it) I can say that not once have I ever been encouraged to just say I believe. So I don’t know where such a claim is coming from.

On a related note:

“…do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”
~ Matthew 23:3

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…”
~ Matthew 7:21

“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it. p. 354 (Mark Twain)

I wouldn’t say I fear death, either.

It’s what might come after death that keeps me up at night.

“The atheist view is correspondingly life-affirming and life-enhancing, while at the same time never being tainted with self-delusion, wishful thinking, or the whingeing self-pity of those who feel that life owes them something.” p. 361

Isn’t it wishful thinking to say that atheism will never be “tainted with self-delusion… or the whingeing self-pity of those who feel that life owes them something”?

After all: History is full of examples of people thinking “___ will never happen.”

One example being:

Titanic

In Conclusion

“Baby’s First Atheism” are the words that come to kind when I think of The God Delusion. Take of that what you will.

There is more I could say about Richard Dawkins’ words, but this post was just me expressing my first impression of his views.

For now, my final words on Richard Dawkins are these:

Atheism strikes me as, for lack of better words, a terribly boring view of life.

To me, renouncing all belief in anything supernatural is the equivalent of choosing to watch paint dry all day, every day, for the rest of my days.

If I were to live in a world with absolutely nothing associated with anything supernatural — i.e., Richard Dawkins’ dream world — I would be denying myself pieces of art like this:

The Garden

Picking a flower from the garden
I know there is a world out there for me

Woman

These words are slightly different than words in “Arrietty’s Song” by Cecile Corbel (an instrumental version of which is below) which was the first thing that came mind when I saw the piece of art posted above:

Thank you to the beautiful little girl who made the piece of art used in this post possible.