Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Why do we Crave Adventure?

Bungee jumping, motocross, skydiving, and all kinds of hurling yourself through the air at ridiculous speeds -- we're a culture obsessed with eXtreme sports.

I've got to be honest with you guys, I even ride a roller coaster and my senses are going,  "Hello? We are falling, here. This is a BAD thing.", so I have no problem shaking my head at the eXtreme sports crowd. That is to say, I admit I have a certain bias, so, fair's fair.

But seriously though, do you ever stop to think about how insane that is? "Why would you jump out of a perfectly good airplane?" goes the old saying.  The brain understands this as reasonable, but the heart wants otherwise.

But the big question I want to think through with you guys is, "Why?"

I somehow got on to listening to an old Paul Harvey soliloquy on youtube the other day:
Video @ 9:16
What's interesting to me is how he talks about the pioneers and settlers that made America into what it is today. Those old timers did a very dangerous thing, and didn't look for, or even expect, a safety-net.  They're like, "Trackless wilderness?  Wild animals?  No idea where my next meal's coming from?  Bring it on!"

Aside, one of the guys in my mens' group said something to this effect:  "Maybe the reason America is what it is, is because it was historically a frontier country, and therefore attracted just those sorts of people."  Maybe we're a nation of reckless adventurers by definition? (I'll just leave you with that thought.)

An even weirder thing about our modern culture is this: We are not only obsessed with thrill-seeking, but now equally obsessed about insulating ourselves from all forms of pain -- or even inconvenience.  So we have this strange paradox, right?  We desire both safety and danger both at the same time.  Think about it. (You might also want to read my article Adventure vs Boredom / Trouble vs Security )

"But why?"  I ask again.  I mean, the safety side is at least logical, but why desire adventure at all?  The "perfectly good airplane" analogy above is what makes sense.

In a purely naturalistic world, there'd be no explanation for it.  But we don't live in a purely naturalistic world!  So the question becomes: Why would God inscribe a desire for adventure upon our nature?

In another sense, what might He be trying to communicate through the general revelation of His creation?

Rich Mullins once sang about, "The reckless, raging fury that they call the love of God" and I think that may be a clue.  It comes down to God's desire for our lives.  As Christians, we're not saved and then left on the Earth to lead a cushy life.  That doesn't make any sense because the Earth is cursed and crying out in anguish.  Heaven is the place for things to be painless.  No, our purpose here can't be to sit in a recliner, but to make a difference.  To take care of the poor and oppressed - yes of course, but even more important, to spread the message salvation and deliverance to our fellow beggars!

Think about this, the so-named "great commission", tells us to "Go into all the world, ..." (Mark 16:15)  If that doesn't sound like a clear call to adventure, I don't know what is.  Furthermore, if you think that living this life sounds easy or safe, I'd like to direct you attention to the book of Acts, Jesus sending us out as "sheep among the wolves" (Matthew 10:16), or even the Voice of the Martyrs website if you still don't believe me.

Of course, it doesn't have to be the whole world in one chomp.  Venturing outside the front door and getting involved in our neighbor's life might be a comparatively adrenaline-packed move for some of us.

Whatever form it takes though, we DO have a purpose and we DO have a job.  It's a big job.  It's a risky job.  It's certainly an adventurous one...  IF we make the move to step outside of our artificial cocoon of comfort and take up the challenge before us.

What if:  Instead of bungee jumping (which has no point), God intends for us to spend our innate desire for adventure on something that actually counts.

What if:  The world is looking to us for hope and light (Matthew 5:14), and maybe we should step up to that roll.

What if:  If the Christian life seems boring... we may be doing it wrong!


Can I say it?
Can I remind us all again?

Live YOUR Adventure!
  - E.L. Fletcher

If the Christian life seems boring, I suggest you may be DOING IT WRONG - E.L. Fletcher



Sunday, May 29, 2016

Juggernaught: Chapter 2 - Passing the Torch

Michael Moast stood outside the room, waiting anxiously.

As he did, he looked over the waist-high marble pillars lining the corridor.  Halogen spots captured each in a field of dazzling light.

The spacious corridor looked like an exhibit hall of a museum.  Atop the pedestals, one might expect to see busts of famous playwrights, objects of sculpture, or priceless historical artifacts.  Instead, these carried what appeared to be random swap-meet finds. 

The one which Michael looked upon now carried a torn Harvard sweatshirt.

The natural deep crimson of the school colors made it hard to see the blood stains unless one knew where to look.

Michael did.

It used to be his.

"You remember that job?", said a voice behind him, and gave a small laugh.

"Of course", he replied, "how could I forget?"

"Hey."  said the other.  She took a step closer and squeezed his arm.  "Look at me."

He obligingly did.  His prim and proper wife Melinda looked back.  She refused to say more until he made eye contact.

He did.

She smiled.

He couldn't help it.  He smiled back.

"There.  That's better.

"You know, God brought us all together for His good reasons.  If He wants this thing to end, it'll end."

"I know." said Michael simply.

Silence hung a long time as the two turned back to the familiar object on the pedestal.  They looked at it, but did not see it.  Their thoughts were too far away.

Michael spoke again.  "I know, but it seems like... like..."

"...like we're not done yet." she completed his thought, as she often did.

Michael nodded.

The stillness was broken with the sound of a door latch.  It echoed like a gunshot in the quiet of the grand hall.

Michael spun to see Miss Maarm standing on the other side.  The woman was as deceptively straight-laced as a third grade teacher, but, chillingly dangerous when she had a mind to be.

"Come in.  They'll see you now."

Michael and his wife followed her into the room.  From the wing chairs to the gigantic tiger head over the roaring fireplace, Dr Carl's personal apartment looked like a gentleman's club straight out of Victorian London. 

Had Phineas Fogg or Dr Livingston walked in puffing on a pipe, none would think anything of it.

Indeed, the man himself stood over by the fireplace, one booted foot on the hearth, arm on his knee, and chatting quietly to a man in silk pajamas.
The other nudged him and pointed.

Carl dropped his foot to the floor and straightened up to his full height.  What an impressive height it was, too!  The man directly hailed from an African tribe in the Congo, known for their massive size.  Though he had plenty of years left, he was certainly slowing down.  White had also invaded his crew-cut hair and bristly mustache.

"Michael." he acknowledged slowly.

His somber face did not bode well for this conversation.

He had promised himself (and his wife) that he was going to stay calm and take whatever came.  He had really intended to, too.  Now, however, his instinct for quick action, gained the upper hand and he blurted out,  "We can't dissolve the Bible Study!"

Carl raised an eyebrow.

Michael's eyes flicked from him to the man in pajamas standing next to him.  "Dr Puttery?"

He looked away, apparently finding some sudden attention-grabbing fact to stare at in the drink in his hand.

He turned to the char next to him.  "Blevens?"

The man was still wrapped up like a mummy from his burn treatments.  He tried to shake his head, but it hurt.  Instead he said hoarsely, "Nah.  I still got a lotta fight left in me!" 

He laughed. 

It hurt so bad it trailed off in a squeak of pain.  He began to cry.

The ladies rushed to his side.

"He's going back to his father's store."  explained Miss Maarm.

She glared back at Michael and added, "...where he belongs."

Michael only had one last appeal.  "Ms McCready?", he pleaded, "Surely you, of all people aren't ready to just give up all the adventure?"

The ex-secret-ops markswoman patted the thick mitt of Bleven's bandaged hand.  She looked over at Carl. 

The two locked eyes for a long time.

She looked away first.  "Ah, Michael", she sighed.  "These old bones ain't what they used t' be.  When a woman reaches a certain age, she belongs at home, plantin' flowers... maybe bakin' a little."

"You?  Bake?", Melinda couldn't help but laugh.  The laughter hung in the air like a dead fish.

Ms McCready was a woman who had lost the life she loved and was trying to find a new place in this world.  That was nothing to laugh about.

A sad pall hung over the room.

Carl walked over to Michael and placed a giant palm on his shoulder.  "I'm sorry, son, but this is just the way of things.  Generations come and generations go.  Now it has come time for the world to spin on without ours."

"No!" he said, slapping the friendly hand away.  "I refuse to accept that!  We are the salt and the light of this world!  If Christians refuse to act, what hope is there left!??"

Carl's lips drew back, showing his gleaming white smile -- the smile Michael had hoped to see upon entering.

"Oh, no.  You mistake me.

"Just as the previous generations passed their torch on to us, now it is time for that responsibility to pass to you."

Michael's eyes grew wide.  He took a step back.  In his life he had already been in countless hair-raising perils, but that moment left him more terrified than any other.

"Me?

"I can't go on without you!"

Carl shook his head.

"For years I have watched you grow as a man.  I stood beside you at your wedding.  I trained you in business savvy and how to be wise, and to fight.  Yes.  Yes you can go on -- because you must.

"And if I know anything about you, you are a man who can always do what he must!"

Michael didn't know what to say as the former Bible Study members each shook his hand and congratulated him on their way out the door.

Their way out the door, that is, for the last time -- and that made it a bittersweet moment for all.

When the last person had left, Michael put out his hand.  Then, thinking better of it, threw his arms around his old mentor.

With a heavy sigh, Melinda took his arm and the two began to walk away.

"Where are you going?"  asked Carl.

Two confused faces turned back to him.

"This is your home, now." he said with a wave of the hand.

It was only at that moment that they noticed the small blue suitcase by the door.

"The van will be over in the morning to pick up my things." he explained matter-of-factly as he slipped into his jacket and donned the eightpanel newsboy cap he loved.

Giving the place one last look for old times' sake, his eyes landed on the tiger head.  He winked at Melinda.  "Might want to redecorate though."

She gave a slight laugh and held her fingers a little distance apart.

She also gave Carl a hug.

The two watched as his figure receded away along the great hall, casting a long and lonesome shadow in the pale moonlight.



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

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

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

Monday, May 16, 2016

Juggernaught: Chapter1 - Walt

They say reds and oranges are considered "warm" colors, and blues and whites are considered "cool".  Just look at any faucet if you don't believe me.  Turns out though, blue and white flames are much, much hotter than red ones.

Walt Blevens had plenty of time to contemplate this thought as the blue/white flames billowed around him, propelling him thirty feet in the air on a geyser of liquid fire. 

Even the solid cast iron manhole cover upon which he crouched started to glow with a dull red deep within.  It was a precarious teetering act, which, if he lost his balance now, would send him headlong into the inferno below.

"Ville de Paris", and "Gaz", it read in raised metal letters.

"No foolin'", he muttered.

The soles of his shoes began to smoke and melt.

Walt tried to think back to the exact point where things started to go wrong.
  • Turns out that the craft material, 'plaster of paris', actually did originate in Paris, or, more accurately, under Paris.
  • Turns out the French capital is built over a mind-bending 3D maze of caverns and tunnels -- mostly gypsum mines used for plaster as well as natural caves, war bunkers, utility tunnels, and a dozen other nooks and crannies.
  • Turns out it's also a great place for counterfeiters to hide.  (Like, for instance, the ones he and his friends had been tailing.)
  • Turns out also that these particular criminals had rigged their operation to blow to get rid of all evidence in the instance they were caught. 

Which they were. 

And it did.

An inconveniently-placed natural gas artery, however, added an all new level of fun for those involved.

Yeah, that was it.  Walt decided.  Just another of life's little surprises.

He didn't know how many more of those he could take.

At that moment, somewhere deep within the labyrinth of gas pipes crisscrossing the city underground, an electronic flow meter finally got the hint that far too much fuel was escaping.  A central computer back at the gas company headquarters was notified, and concurred.  After duly creating and filing a service ticket with the repair department, it also decided to take care of the whole "city in flames" issue and close down the emergency valves to that section of town.

The roaring flames and their thrust disappeared instantly, sending Walt plummeting two stories without warning.

There he lit, making a human-shaped indent in the heat-softened tar of the Rue du Louvre.

Uneven cooling forced fissures to open up in the blacktop like a sun-parched desert floor.  Underlayers sill glowed a molten red as if a demon from Hell was trying to claw its way through to the world of men.

This didn't deter Walt's friends who charged forward to his aid. 

At least that's who he identified the approaching shoes as.

Shoes.  He thought.  That's it.  I shoulda stayed in shoes.

Then he blacked out.




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

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

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

Juggernaught - a FREE adventure story!

This is the central hub for my new serial:


K
eys to a California mansion change hands.

Old heroes fade away.
New ones are raised up.
Smoke and steel are seen on the horizon...

Once again, the world is in turmoil and only one group - the Moast Bible Study - stands between a smart-dressed warlord and his diabolical plans of world domination!




 

Index:
* About the Book
* Chapter Links
* PromoVideo
* FAQ
* More Images
  
About the Book:
I'll be releasing this book in 1-2 chapter installments over the coming weeks.

Sign up for my email list to get notified immediately when new material is released, plus as a bonus you'll be able to have the final, release-quality, ebook for FREE!

Chapter Links:
Part I - The Transition
Chapter 1 - Walt
Chapter 2 - Passing the Torch
Chapter 3 - The Transition
Chapter 4 - Peregrini
Chapter 5 - Moving Day
Chapter 6 - New Recruits
Chapter 7 - Illyricum
Chapter 8 - Kurt's Mission
Part II - Zombie Cult [Author's Intro]
Chapter 9 - NiƱera
Chapter 10 - Tour Group
Chapter 11 - Friends
Chapter 12 - Barbarians!
Chapter 13 - Pagan Lands
Chapter 14 - Stolen Artifact
Chapter 15 - Gran Prix, Bosnia
Chapter 16 - Seebeck Tower
Chapter 17 - California
Chapter 18 - Abduction
Chapter 19 - Bad Pastry
Chapter 20 - Grandson
Chapter 21 - Mice in the Walls
Chapter 22 - Mice in the Attic
Chapter 23 - Boiler Room
Chapter 24 - The Decisions We Make I
Chapter 25 - The Decisions We Make II
Chapter 26 - Back Into the Frying Pan
Chapter 27 - Zombie Wars
Chapter 28 - Sea of Regrets
Chapter 29 - Crazy
Chapter 30 - Walking Away
Part III - Juggernaught

Chapter 31 - The Road Home...
Promo Video:
NOTE: The book mockup in this video uses my old cover.

FAQ:
Q.  So this is "FREE"?  What's the catch?
A.  No catch.  Just click the chapters above and enjoy the story!
Q. How often will new story installments be released?
A. I'm shooting for a week to ten days.

Q. I see an email list.  Do I need to sign up to get the story?
A. No.  You read it right here, same as the people on the email list.  BUT...

Q. What advantage is there to signing up for the email list?
A. Mostly, there are two:
* You get updates on free and published material, so you never miss out on a thing.
* You'll also be able to get the final ebook for FREE.

Q. Is there an ebook I can download?
A. Not yet, but there will be. When all the chapters are done being published here, I'll compile them into an ebook.

Q.  How much will the ebook cost?
A.  Free for those on the email list at time of release.  Around $2-$3 USD for everybody else.

Q. Will the final ebook be different than the chapters here?
A. Absolutely!
* These installments have not been though a professional editor.
* Many of your corrections / ideas in the blog comments will be added.
* There will be additional chapters in the ebook - mainly to give it context as a prequel.
Q. Did you know "juggernaught" should be spelled "juggernaut"?
A. Yes.  I chose the 'gh' like in "dreadnought" because it sounded cooler to me.  "naut" sounds too mellow, much like, "astronaut".  The 'g' seems to have a silent growl to it.  (Or is it just me?)

Q. What is a juggernaut, anyway?
A. A juggernaut is an enormous Hindu wagon used to carry idols in processions.  They are renown for plowing ahead and crushing everything and anyone stupid enough to stand in the way.  Both of these traits apply to the story.
Q. Is this "the book" you've been working on?
A. Nope.  That's going to be another story completely, set in the same world with many of the same characters.  This online story is a prequel story to that.
Q. Is this story already written, or not?
A. A little of both.  I have the entire thing outlined and certain key chapters already written.  Each week, I'll still be finishing that particular chapter according to the blueprint.
Q. What if I have another question?
A. Ask me!  My social media links are on the right, or you can email me directly at the following address:
More Images:
(for social media sharing)



Friday, May 6, 2016

Update: Email List! Woot!

Hey all, here's an update.

You probably noticed the pop-up that greeted you when you visited the page.
(It's not too annoying is it?  I just didn't want people to miss out.  If it's obnoxious, tell me and I'll see about putting the form somewhere else.)

The point of that is you can get notified of new story installments as soon as they come out so you don't miss any of the action.

Also, if you recall the last blog entry, I wanted to make the ebook free for people who have been following along with the episodes.  It dawned on me I had no way to keep track of that with just the blog.  Therefore, if you want the ebook for free at the end, you'll have to at least be signed up by the last chapter.

No rush, obviously (how's that for pushy sales skills?) since the first chapter isn't out till later this week.  But you might want to do it while you're thinking about it.   It would be sad to forget and miss out.  (Like I probably would.)





Believe-you-me, it wasn't an easy stunt to pull off!  I spent all yesterday quagmired in paperwork.  All I wanted to do was to create an email list.  Sounds simple, right?  Well, it's NOT!

Turns out the gov has mandated that you need a physical address on an email list.  Why?  For reasons that only make sense to a politician, apparently.

But to get a physical mailing address, you need to be a "real" person, which Fletcher is a pen name.

So I call the family attorney.  "How do you get around this?"

"A way around the Post Office bureaucracy?", he says between belly laughs.  (This was not encouraging.)

After he contains himself enough to form sentences, he says the only way is to form a corporation.

So to cut the rest of the story short, after a couple hundred bucks in miscellaneous fees, filling out a mountain of paperwork, re-entering my entire home address no less than eight (I counted) times and securing a federal business tax id for all of the employees I won't be hiring, I am pleased to announce...

I can now *legally* send an email!  Ta-da!

You know, sometimes I look at lawless post-apocalyptic wasteland stories like Mad Max and go, "Sounds good!  Sign me up!"

Anyway, that's enough complaining.  The list is alive and kicking now, so you should all sign up.


Live YOUR adventure (despite the paperwork ;) ),
 -E.L. Fletcher