Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thoughts About the Charleston, SC Shooting

Wednesday, June 17th, a man entered the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the city of Charleston, South Carolina. He sat through the entire service.  He listened to the words spoken. It's said that he even prayed with the congregation.

At the end of the service the man opened fire on the congregation, reloading a total of five times and slaying (murdering) 9 people, sparing only 3. His purpose was plain: He was there to kill black people. His sole reason for sitting through an entire prayer service with 12 other people and then killing most of them was the color of their skin.

Some of the victims of the shooting.
I won't show you the face of the perpetrator.

People will want to know why he did it. They will talk about his reasoning, whether or not he has terrorist affiliations, or even if he was mentally ill. I've seen people on Facebook talking about it and I've read all the headlines. Many people are going to talk about it until the next thing in the news takes its place and I'm certain that no one is going to care what I have to say on the matter. (Truthfully, I've had quite a bit of thought put into what I was going to say and I'm still not sure where I'm finally going to take this, even as I write it.)

We live in the United States of America in the year 2015 and a man walked into a church, was presumably under the presentation of the Word, and then opened fire on a group of people because of the color. of. their. skin.  

As a South Carolinian, as a person, and as a Christian, I am definitely angry. I am also very sad. 

People are going to commit atrocities no matter how well-cultured, well-raised, or well-educated. That much is certain. There is something in humans that cannot be removed by breeding, learning, or by any form of punishment or threat. It is squelched in many people to the point that they can live productive lives in society, doing good things, and helping each other. But, it's still there and it's a ravenous and overwhelming poison that will overtake a person with expediency if the things that keep that person functioning are removed. Perhaps it's a job or a person or a dream, whatever that thing is, that if taken from a person can push them over the edge. 

Everyone has had a really bad day before. Heck, sometimes you have a couple of really bad days. But, what if you had a series of horrible days and there was no one to pull you out of it? How long could you hold on before you snapped?  How long could you fight that poison that lives deep inside you?

Please understand, I am not making excuses for this man. There is no excuse. This event was an act of evil.  And this evil is everywhere. This is a caution for all of you reading.  There is a beast inside waiting to devour you and anyone around you, if you let it.  If you are what people frequently refer to as "a good person," you will most often resist this beast-- you will fight it-- and, for most people, that will be enough to keep them from walking into a building and acting on whatever cruel and vicious thought has jumped into their mind for the day (week/month/year).  However, it will still whisper for you to do things in the dark... where other people cannot see and there is no fear of retribution for any wrong committed.  

"No one will know."  "Nobody is looking."  "You can get away with it."

Be aware: If you are not a Christian, feel free to read on, but be aware that this will likely conflict with your worldview (which I challenge all people to do.)

This beast is sin. It whispers to us at all times, urging us to do harm, pulling us away from doing good for others. It's something with which we are born and it is not something that we can ever escape with our own strength. It is only by the Grace of God that we can overcome such a relentless enemy.  It is only by the power of the Cross that we can resist sin and Satan, because we will eventually fail.  We will lose our strength and we will fail. 

If you have been redeemed; if you have been washed in the Blood of the Lamb; if the old man has been crucified with Christ and you are born again, then you don't need to worry about why this man did what he did. There are certainly reasons that present themselves in the form of racism, possible mental illness, and flawed reasoning, but these are merely symptoms of a larger problem: sin.  It's a problem to which you are not immune if you confront it on your own without the power of Christ. 

You have accepted Christ as your salvation, but do not ignore your need for Christ in your daily life. There will never come a time in your life when you can do this on your own. As believers, we must strive to rely on the Gospel and the finished work of Christ to resist the poison that lives within us and within the world.

You may find yourselves asking, as I often do,"What's wrong with people?" (I can hear my mother's voice in that.)

Don't wonder. You know what's wrong with people. We need Christ.

In the wake of this horrible tragedy, re-commit yourself to rely on the power of Christ.  Pray for your loved ones to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. Pray for the families dealing with this pain.  Love your neighbor and your enemy.  Give to those in need.  And as much as you may not want to, pray that the shooter is confronted with the reality of his sin and wrongdoing and will humble himself before the Lord and ask for the forgiveness which we all deeply need and none of us deserve.  This man meant evil, but God can take this evil and bring about good.

In Christ,


Saturday, October 08, 2011

Undead Hunter

Undead Hunter

A brisk wind from the darkness brought a slight chill to the Hunter’s back as he overlooked the barren city from his tower, an amalgam of steel girders, scaffolding, and miscellaneous building materials, standing over a hundred feet above the cracked streets, lined with burned automobiles and the incomplete skeletons he had become so accustomed to seeing.  The Cleaning Crews didn’t always have time to recover all the bodies of fallen comrades, because one could never be sure when they would appear.  As his ears tuned out the incessant howl from his Death Caller, he checked the scope of his rifle, peering into the distance, seeking prey.  None.  Hunting in the night was often difficult, no matter how well one’s eyes could adjust or what equipment was at hand.  This trip had not been kind to the Hunter.  The weather had been unwelcoming to say the least, as it seemed the entire earth had poured every drop of water it possessed upon him, while a continual wind from the north brought a steady numbness to the Hunter’s skin, in which he only felt cold in those times the wind grew strong.  Not to mention the lack of food that left his body heavy and mind dragging.  There hadn’t been more than an single emergency pack rationed out to Hunters per week for at least six weeks.  Food was hard to come by these days, especially in this barren existence.  Most men had long left this place for greener pastures, so to speak.

Death’s smell lingered in all directions.  In fact, the cursed smell never died!  Looking down from his tower into the streets, the Hunter shook off his fatigue and began his hourly search of ever inch of the city he could see through his scope.  It was maddening.  The Death Caller had been wailing for three days and not a single one of the creatures had come forth!  Not one!  Suppressing his anger, he allowed his logical mind to remind him that the slow-moving pace of these things did not allow them to travel large distances well, especially if having to maneuver around obstacles.  The only thing about their travel that gave them any semblance of speed is that they did not stop.  They never tired.  They were always dragging on, with their never-ending hunger, and inability to feel pain.  No will, save hunger. A beast in the greatest sense of the word; worse than any animal that had ever existed.  Regardless of his logic, the wait was nearly more than he could stand.

Kneeling amongst what little gear he had carried, the Hunter let a long sigh from his lips, which against the cloth raised over his mouth and nose, brought back a small feeling of warmth.  Adjusting the body armor covering his hands and forearms, the Hunter gathered his few belongings from inside the steel box in which he had to sleep to escape the elements.  After sliding the visor of helmet up, he holstered his pistol-grip shotgun along his left thigh, grabbed up two boxes of shotgun ammo and his flashlight and slid them into a satchel containing a small blanket and the rest of his rifle’s ammunition and strapped it across his back with his rifle.  Three days.  The Death Caller would cease soon.  The most dangerous part of the mission was upon the Hunter: the return.  There was really no way of knowing how many of the monsters were headed towards the screeching sound of the horn beneath him, but once it stopped, he would be forced to make his way back to camp, regardless of what he would run into on the way.  Rules and regulations existed to make sure things were done efficiently, regardless of the dangers they could create.  Then, it stopped.

After checking the twin .45 caliber pistols at his waist and sliding his machete out of its sheath once to look at it, he quickly descended the ladder in the center of the tower onto the streets.  The only sound that touched the Hunter’s ears was the whistling of the wind through the man-made caverns of skyscrapers.  Not much of a replacement for the howling of the Death Caller, but it would have to do.  Stepping over the rubble of the fallen society of man, the Hunter shot cursory glances in all directions, while his ears strained to hear the sounds of dragging feet or guttural groaning.  He had walked for the better part of half an hour through the city when he stopped at the threshold of man’s former domain and nature’s realm.  The bare trees through the woods hinted death at every side.  The darkness and the shadows played tricks on the Hunter’s eyes as he crossed from the city, dimly lit by the moon, into woods which seemed far darker than the lack of leaves should have allowed.

The Hunter had no need for a light.  In fact, he didn’t even need his night vision equipment.  He had traveled this path many times before and it had become almost second nature where to step; where to jump; where to duck.  He walked silently along the path, hand on his machete, listening to every leaf crackle underfoot.  It would take almost three hours at this pace to reach camp, but thoughts had to be on now.  There was no telling when--

A shrill cry ringing out in the distance drew the Hunter’s full attention.  Not a monster.  A man.  There was a man out there.  Drawing his machete, he listened once more.  He thought he had heard the direction, but the forest could often distort distant sounds.  Again, a scream, followed by gunshots.  The man was not alone.  Although the Hunter could not yet hear the death-filled gurgling of the creatures, he knew they would be there.  Leaping off the path, he darted towards where the scream had been and, at the behest of the sound of more gunshots, slightly corrected his course.  Machete drawn, he sliced through small vines and limbs in his path, quickly, but carefully darting towards the endangered man.  He ran hard for many minutes, until he came out of the woods and back into the city.  Another part of the city, but the city, nonetheless.

This was not a good thing.  In the city, there were too many uncertainties.  Too many corners and crevices for things to hide in.  The street was just as every other street: abandoned, ruined, and smelling of death… except, this street was different.  There was a man on this street in danger and that was all that was important.  Some crashing noises spun him on his heels to face an enormous building with most of the glass in the front doors smashed out already.  That was a good thing, the Hunter decided.  He did not treasure the idea of cutting himself on broken glass or wasting ammunition having to break into a desolate building.  Gripping the handle of his machete tightly he sprinted up the few stairs and slid through the shattered glass doors, ready for a fight.  However, there was no fight here anymore.  The monsters that had been here were already dead.  Four of the creatures lay in a huddle in front of the door labeled “Stairs”.  Approaching them slowly, he examined them closely, but not too closely.  Head shots.  All of them.  At least this man knew how to deal with the creatures.  Oftentimes, in fits of panic, the untrained just emptied a clip into one of these things, expecting it to go down.  They usually didn’t live long enough to make that mistake twice.

Dragging the creatures out of the way, he cursed at their stench.  The worst part of it all was having to see the faces, or what was left of them.  With the emergency lights somehow still working in the building, he managed to see the face of a woman, a diamond earring still hanging from her ear and three men, nearly indistinguishable from each other.  The men had been changed for some time now.  To think that these had once been human.  It was sickening.

Pulling a pistol from his side with his free hand, he gripped the door handle while holding tightly to his machete.  No use in limiting his killing options.  Pulling the door open quickly, he pointed the pistol up the stairs.  Nothing.  Just a dimly lit, concrete staircase.  It was amazing the emergency power in this building still worked.  A relic of human ingenuity.  Stairs were easily defendable, that is, if you were on top.  Climbing stairs could be very dangerous, since you couldn’t be sure what was waiting just above you.  Adjusting the sack strapped across his back, he quickly made sure the string was tight, so it wouldn’t be caught on anything if he had to make a run for it.  Moving with all the agility he could muster with his heavy body, he tried to stay alert, eyes darting back and forth.  This was going to be difficult.  He was tired and hungry and had no idea where this man he needed to save was in this huge building.

At every floor, he quickly darted in and out of the hallways, trying to find a sign of life.  After going fifteen or twenty almost identical floors upward, the Hunter slid into a hallway, eyes moving, pistol ready.  An series of echoes in the nearly empty hallway tensed every muscle in his body.  Was it the slow shuffle of the creatures’ walk, he questioned in his mind.  No.  Not that.  With the softest steps boots could make, he moved as quickly as he could down the hallway.  As he approached where he thought he was hearing the tapping, it stopped.  Slowly, he began to round the corner.  A clicking sound brought years of training into service as his hand snapped reflexively to defect the gun coming towards his face and, as the gun fired, he had already placed his own at the throat of his would-be attacker.

“Don’t move,”  the Hunter said hoarsely. Wide eyes stared trembling down the barrel of the Hunter’s pistol as he motioned for the other man to step back into the room.  Stumbling backward, the balding man held his own pistol high.

“What are you doing here?”  the Hunter questioned threateningly at the middle-aged man.

“I live-”

“Liar!” The Hunter snapped, “No one lives here!  This is a graveyard, if you hadn’t noticed.”

Looking anywhere but the Hunter’s eyes, the stranger answered slowly, “It’s complicated…”

Irritation tickled the back of the Hunter’s mind, “It doesn’t matter.”

“What are you doing here?”  asked the stranger, obviously holding back the urge to yell.

“Getting you out of this city,”  said the Hunter gruffly as he surveyed the room.  “You are a just a hunk of meat, after all.  Hell, we both are, but you are far more useful alive than as one of those creatures.”

“So, that’s why you’d risk your life for me, eh?”

“One less monster, one more human,”  The Hunter scoffed “It’s a game of numbers.  That’s it.  And whatever reason you were here for,” continued the Hunter, pointing at the door, “you are done with it now.  Let’s go.”

Motioning the man on with his gun, the Hunter followed close behind through the doorway, the man‘s hands still up.  The Hunter knew that what came next would be the hard part of the journey.  Two bodies moving through the streets made more noise and the smell could easily attract every creature in the area.  As the two entered the stairwell to return downstairs, the stranger mentioned that his name was Jack just as the Hunter handed the him his remaining pistol.

“I don’t know how much ammo you have, but you’re gonna need this, regardless,” the Hunter said unemotionally, his logical mind running through every possible scenario downstairs.  What could await them was not comforting.  At every floor, the Hunter carefully peered down the stairs to make sure there were no unwelcome surprises waiting for them.  Pistols drawn, the two reached the door to the lobby.  The Hunter cursed the lack of a window in the door and, putting his ear to it, listened intently.  The sounds echoing on the other side of the door brought another curse across the Hunter’s lips.

“We’ve got company,” the Hunter sneered.  “I hope you know how to use that thing well enough.  Make every shot count, Jack.”  He said the name as an afterthought.

The other man nodded as the Hunter prepared to open the door.

Bursting out of the door with a leap, the Hunter’s reflexes guided his body in between two of the creatures and, sliding across the floor, spun to fire two shots into the craniums of the decaying beasts.  Each dropped instantly, but the Hunter had no time to stop.  No time to think.  The Hunter quickly turned to the outside.  Three more coming up the steps.  Luckily, they had a hard time with climbing, for two of them fell atop the steps and continued along at a crawl.  Glancing back at the man, the Hunter growled.

“Come on, damn you!  And kill every one of these things we come across!”

Redirecting his attention forward, the Hunter picked off the standing creature with ease, before dashing through the smashed glass entryway.  Bounding over the steps, the Hunter inverted himself, midair, and disposed of the other two mindless devourers with a single bullet each.  Landing just in front of the steps, the Hunter snapped his gun up in front of him, glancing in every direction for another attacker.  It seemed there were none.

“It’s done,” the Hunter sighed.  “For now, at least.”

From behind him, Jack’s cracking voice asked, “What are you?”

Turning to face Jack in the dark of the city, the Hunter scoffed, “I’m a Hunter.”

“You mean, you actually look for these things?”  Jack questioned, throwing his hands up.

The Hunter’s anger flared, “And we save pitiful lives like yours!  In this world that we live in, you should be thankful anyone would spare you this long.  We don’t have much time.”

With his nerves slightly shaken and still angry, the Hunter pulled his visor down just over his nose.  There was a benefit to having technology.  The night vision lens that made up his visor extended the Hunter’s vision to the point that night appeared as day.  Breaking off into a steady jog, he motioned behind for Jack to follow.  If he was going to make it back to base before morning, he was going to have to keep this pace the rest of the night.  No Hunter wanted to be out during the day when not on duty.  During the day, home base would be sealed entirely and, more than likely, there would be some creatures that had made their way to the base.  Waiting until nightfall one more time was not a welcoming thought to the Hunter. As the two jogged along the street, approaching the trees, Jack began a conversation, much to the Hunter’s dismay.

“You know, with all that gear on, you can’t see any part of your body,”  Jack chortled.

Used to being alone, the Hunter tried to ignore Jack as they moved and kept his eyes constantly moving.  Continuing through the threshold of the city into the forest, the Hunter could hardly stand the man’s incessant jabbering behind him.  Clearing his throat, the Hunter warned Jack that the creatures are attracted to sound, quieting him finally.  A pang of hunger hit the Hunter full force as the two jogged amidst the trees.  It would have to wait, though.  On the outside, stopping for anything was dangerous.  There were always other things on the move, drawing ever closer.  Suddenly, the Hunter froze in his tracks and, from behind, Jack slid to a stop, quickly spouting an objection for their stopping.

“What are you-?”

Cutting him off, the Hunter interjected, “How long have you been traveling?”

“What does that…” Jack trailed off, sensing the Hunter’s irritation, “About a month.”

“How long on foot?”  Asked the Hunter breathily.

“Two weeks or so,” Jack responded quickly.  “Why?”

“Why!?”  The Hunter spat out.  “I should have considered this before!  You’ve been on foot for two weeks straight.  It’s impossible to know how many of these damned creatures you’ve passed in the process and every last one of them you’ve passed will be following your scent.  But that’s not the worst part!!”  The Hunter cursed through his teeth, “The worst part is these creatures let out a loud roar when they sense prey.  Other monsters hear it and head towards the sound.  We could literally be assaulted by a hundred of them.”

As the Hunter explained, fear washed over every inch of Jack’s face.  The Hunter could see Jack was breathing harder and harder each second.  Perhaps he would just have a heart attack and then he‘d be free of him, the Hunter considered.  Dismissing his thoughts, the Hunter motioned for them to keep moving, but kept the pace at a light run.  They needed to get to shelter and they needed to get there fast.

Several minutes later, the Hunter could hear Jack’s deep, broken breaths and decided that they should slow down slightly.  They couldn’t afford to stop.  Movement, however small, was of the utmost importance in this situation.  The darkness wrapped the trees like ink-stained cotton.  Pulling the satchel from his back, he removed his flashlight and handed it back to Jack.  Perhaps a source of light would calm the other man, considered the Hunter.

Turning to look ahead again, the Hunter’s body tensed all over.  Directly in the path, not fifty feet ahead, one of the creature’s loomed in the gaze of his night vision.  If it saw them, it would cry out.  The others would come.  The sound of gunfire was far less drawing to the creatures than the call of one of their brethren.  Snapping his pistol out of its holster as fast as he could, the Hunter fired a single shot, ending the monster’s pseudo existence.

“Thank God!”  Shouted Jack.

The Hunter was not so ready for gratefulness.  Very rarely was there only one creature at a time.  Looking to his left, through his visor, his eyes widened.  Movement speckled the edge of his vision.  To the right was the same.  A moment later, movement had definite form.  Slouching, feet-dragging beasts approached from every side.  Jack, unable to see as far into the darkness, still reeled from victory.

“Unfortunately, Jack,” said the Hunter dryly, “it’s not over yet.”

A monstrous, gurgling roar stung the Hunter’s ears, which seemed to multiply on into infinity.  The Hunter growled loudly, drawing his shotgun.  The smell of prey drew the creatures in as fast as their degraded bodies would move them.  Wasting no time, the Hunter picked off as many as he could with his pistol, before the ominous clicking forced the Hunter to throw his bag down so he could pull his rifle from his back.

“Don’t stand there looking stupid,”  the Hunter yelled to Jack.  “Kill as many as you can.”

Jack’s two pistols fired into the night at the approaching horde.  Quickly, the Hunter was on his feet again, with his shotgun re-holstered and his bag strapped to him again.  As useful as it would be, he needed both hands to be stable enough to one-shot-one-kill the creatures.  With skillful aiming, the Hunter’s shots were able to take out several of the creatures in just a few moments.  The shots continued behind him from Jack as the Hunter picked off more and more with his rifle.  But, they would not stop coming.  There were so many!  Jack’s pistols clicked empty and, pausing for a moment, the hunter tossed him the pistol-gripped shotgun previously re-holstered.  The Hunter had managed to form a small path in front of them with his assault.  Yelling at Jack to follow, he broke into a dash through the oncoming attackers.  Periodically, the Hunter had to remove one of the beasts from his path, but he never stopped moving.  Several moments into the run, a scream from behind brought the Hunter’s gun around, firing like a reflex, taking the top of one creature’s skull off as it clutched Jack’s hair in hand.

“Come on!”  The Hunter screamed at Jack, turning to run again.

Running as quickly as Jack as not to lose the man, the Hunter’s rifle swung from side to side, killing any creature in his path.  Unfortunately, he ran out of ammunition as he ran and, with no time to reach for more, he bashed any creature that came close enough  with the butt of his rifle.  Even if he couldn’t kill the things, he had to keep them away.  One bite was all it took.  Then, the Hunter stopped.

In front of them hobbled a line of the beasts too thick to run through.  The Hunter broke off the path through the woods, seeking for another way.  Yelling behind him for Jack through the gurgling snarls of the monsters, the Hunter’s eyes looked for an opening.  There was none.  The Hunter could hardly fathom the sheer numbers of them.  Hundreds, maybe over a thousand of the creatures.  Stopping, the Hunter stared with determination at the wall of bodies.

“Jack,” the Hunter shouted as the other man approached with labored breath.  “Stay right behind me.”

The other man just nodded.

Sliding his machete out of it’s sheath, the Hunter dropped his bag of rifle ammunition and his rifle amongst the fallen leaves.  As valuable as the tools were, they were liabilities now.  Just more things for those monsters to grab on to.  Pulling his shotgun free, he emptied it into the horde before tossing it to the ground as well.  Muscles ready for action, the Hunter burst toward the crowd, Jack and the ensuing horde following close behind.  As he approached the huddled mass of flesh, his machete fell across limb and skull.  His reflexes kept the monsters from getting too close as he dodged their mindless grasps, countering with kicks to knees and short fore-fists to sternums.  He worked his way through the crowd, hacking and striking, all the while trying to protect Jack, running close behind.  The moving was slow and methodical, but fortunately, the instinct-driven creatures could not form any kind of strategy to more effectively attack him.

Just keep moving, the Hunter told himself.  Don’t stop.  Keep moving.  He lodged his machete into a skull.  It stayed.  He had no time to wrench it from the beast’s brain.  He roared as his gloved fists and booted feet launched monsters back in all directions.  Jack pushed desperately at any that came near, as the Hunter placed all of his attacks without thinking, relying on years of training and pure rage.  Screaming, the Hunter thrust-kicked a creature in the chest, slamming it through several others and into a tree. A hand from behind grasped at his helmet, just under his visor, pulling it from his head, but he pushed on, paying it no heed. Slowly, there was more and more space for the Hunter to move in.  The fighting became less frantic, more strategic.  As the monsters approached from all directions, the Hunter would snap a leg or shove a beast over, but he kept moving onward, all the while spitting curses through the cloth raised over his nose.

Jack got close to the Hunter just for a moment in order to speak.  “Let’s run,” he said calmly. “Forget about stopping these things.”

The Hunter, caught up in his rage, didn’t realize that there had been an opportunity for escape.  How long had he been fighting?  Grunting his agreement, he sprinted in the direction he knew the base was in, smashing a creature in the side of the head with his fist as he went by.  They ran hard, howls passing on every side in the darkness of the surrounding wood.  Obstacles had to be taken at near break-neck speed.  Leaping a ditch.  Ducking through low-hanging limbs.  Pushing through thick, intertwined brush.  They had to go faster; had to go harder.  Time had lost its meaning in the rush.  An amber hue touched the very edge of the Hunter’s vision, smashing him into reality.  Daylight!!

The Hunter jerked his head around, searching for the familiar signs of home, when he actually leapt into the main trail leading to home base.  Jack stumbled out behind him, breath growing heavier and heavier with each passing moment.  No time to see if he was okay.  Pulling out everything he had, the Hunter sprinted down the trail, the wind blowing past his ears, removing the sound of everything else.  His eyes were only on the trail.  If the man behind him didn’t keep up, it would indeed be a travesty.  It was of the utmost importance he get the man back to base, but he would not sacrifice everything for the man if there was no hope of getting him there.

Suddenly, in his view, a risen dome of earth appeared.  That’s it!  The Hunter pushed harder and harder!  The metal of the dome glinted slightly in the distance.  NO!  Only a few minutes at most!  An accursed roar broke his focus a final time.  A solitary foe in between the Hunter and salvation.  Pushing even harder, the Hunter’s vision tunneled and he saw nothing but the creature ahead.  When he came within reach, the Hunter reared back, threw a punch and smashed the monster’s head like an egg.  Clamoring up the step incline of the dome, the Hunter looked back for an instant, thankful to see Jack just behind him, starting his climb as well.  Eyes ahead, there was the opening.  Only a few moments left, as the sun left a small imprint on the sky in the distance.

Jack screamed!

Looking behind, the Hunter witnessed two more creatures pulling Jack down.  In desperation, the Hunter spun and grabbed Jack’s arm, pulling him from the monstrous grip of the beasts with all his might and falling backward through the opening, as the door above closed, sheathing them in darkness as the sun arose outside.  Both Jack and the Hunter breathed heavily, laying on the cold concrete on which they had landed.  Blue emergency lights illuminated the darkness of the small room little by little, as the two stood, nursing injuries from the fall.

The Hunter raised his eyes to meet Jack’s, whose enormous grin was an idle tribute to the last-second victory.  The Hunter was not so amused.

Moving to Jack swiftly, he put he hands on his shoulders, eyes examining the man’s body as best he could, “Did they bite you,” he kept yelling.  “Did they bite you?!”  The fatigue, the excitement, the rush of it all slammed into the Hunter with an unyielding force… but, mostly, his hunger.  The pain from his hunger pounding in his head and his chest, he gripped tightly onto the man, the Hunter’s eyes rolling back in his head for just a moment.

Jack, laughing, put his hands on the Hunter’s shoulders, resting them across the body armor lightly.  “Don’t worry,”  he cackled.  “Everything’s gonna be fine, now!”

He didn’t answer the question!  He needed to know now!  They wouldn’t open the gates to the main base until it was confirmed.  The continuous action over the past few hours made the Hunter’s hunger even more apparent.  Once it was confirmed, they’d open the gates.  Once it was confirmed, the staggering hunger could be satiated.  He had done his job.  He had even rescued a man from the clutches of the creatures.  Given that, it was apparent the other Hunters, too, waited desperately for confirmation.  It would be such a waste to have to kill this man and discard his body.  Such a waste.  Confirm!  Open the gates!  So hungry!

“Did they bite you,” The Hunter snarled at Jack violently.

“No, they didn’t bite me,”  Jack exclaimed, throwing his hands upward, finally confirming it.

The Hunter’s eyes widened as he tossed the cloth covering his nose and mouth to the ground, screaming, “Open the gates!”

He looked back at Jack.

“You are sure,”  he asked, eyes fixed intently on the man.

“Yes,” Jack sighed, “I’m sure.”

“Good,”  the Hunter growled,   “Good”

Sliding his tongue across lengthy canines, the Hunter moved faster than he thought he could, pushing Jack to the floor and sinking his fangs into his neck deeply as the gates behind him opened.  There would be a feast tonight for the shepherds of the world of men.  Jack, twitched in the Hunter’s grasp.  This poor man would fuel the fire to wipe out the plague of monsters upon this globe.  But, the pity for his existence made the blood from his veins no less sweet.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011



It is man’s fate to pay for his sins: to face the consequences of his actions.  But, is it fate that he should also be punished for the sins of his father or, perhaps, a man so far back in his lineage he is but a faceless contributor of genes?  These thoughts often plagued the mind of Scott Dean as he reflected upon his life.  No amount of therapy had brought him to terms with these contemplations.  And there had been a great deal of therapy.  Scott’s mother reassured him as he grew up that he was his own person and could be whatever he wanted to be, despite his fears of ending up as those men of the past.

Whatever fears he had, however, were far from his mind tonight.  Strolling hand-in-hand with his fiancé along the downtown shopping district, love infused itself into every cell in his body.  He was sure that, as he walked, others noticed the glow of love surrounding his figure and the pride in his gait.  Rebecca was remarkably beautiful.  Strawberry-blonde locks falling down to her mid back; a face only an angel could possess; and a figure so striking, most people had to look twice to be sure their eyes had not deceived them.  Scott wasn’t quite sure what she saw in his wiry frame and pony-tailed hair attached to a face most would call average.  But love him she did.  She said as much, but it was not her words that showed her deep affection.  The little acts of kindness when he wasn’t expecting it or how she tried her best to pick him up when he was low showed how much she cared.  Only Rebecca made Scott feel alive.  Only she made him feel worthy.  Since they had been together Scott had even stopped seeing his therapist.

Window shopping had become one of the couple’s favorite pastimes, since neither often had any extra spending money.  In typical woman fashion, Rebecca adored jewelry, although she only wore two pieces of it.  The silver necklace dangling from her neck swung back and forth as she crouched to eye-level to stare intently into the window of the local jewelry store at the array of accoutrements.  Placing her left hand on the window and looking over her shoulder at Scott, she smiled deeply.

“None of them are quite like this one,” she said lovingly.

She didn’t have to say what she was referencing.  The silver engagement band on her left ring finger was her most valued possession.  Although it only held a solitary diamond, so small it was hardly noticeable unless you were looking for it, she often boasted of how much she adored it.  It was quite a stroke of luck for Scott to find the ring as, unbeknownst to him, it was a near perfect match to the one her father had given her before he died. When he presented it to her, bended knee and all, she burst into tears so much Scott figured he’d made a mistake, but she just hugged her to him, whispering in between sobs that she would marry him.  Later, she explained to him that when she had lost the ring years before while swimming in the ocean it broke her heart, because it was the only thing her father had left her upon his passing.  Scott never knew his father, so he didn’t understand the attachment; the only thing his father had left him were the voices in his head.  Scott closed his eyes for a moment and sighed, but opened again as a soft hand rested on his cheek.

“No sadness,”  Rebecca said, smiling.  “I love you too much to see you sad.”

A tender kiss accompanied her soothing words, drawing Scott up from the darkness he sometimes retreated to for no reason at all.  She was truly the greatest thing in his life.  Taking his hand, Rebecca turned and the lovers continued their stroll, casually peering into the stores along the street side, occasionally serenaded by the musicians who saw it as their civic duty to play for a passing audience.  On these walks, they hardly spoke at all, choosing to take in the beauty of their surroundings; choosing to feel a love from one another inexpressible through words.

The crowded streets accompanying the weekend nightlife downtown slowly dwindled as Scott and Rebecca wandered about aimlessly, observing the wonder of life as seen through the eyes of love.  The two found themselves away from the main flow of what pedestrian traffic remained, following a newly paved path into the city park, streetlamps shining on another world: a world markedly different from the one the lovers had ventured from.  A waterfall from the local river cascaded into a pond, which died into a stream beneath a quaint wooden bridge connecting the two halves of the park.  Rebecca’s eyes lit up as she broke her grasp on Scott’s hand to run onto the bridge and stare at the tiny piece of nature residing in a forest of concrete.  Following a few steps behind, Scott thrust his hands in his pockets and took in her carefree exuberance.  When he reached the bridge, she was staring into the small stream with her head resting on her crossed arms against the rough wood railing.  Slipping one arm around her waist and placing the other on the railing, he sighed, which solicited a quick glance from Rebecca. However, seeing his face filled with contentment, she smiled and resumed her gaze into the waters below.

Within the bounds of this new world, the stars shined with a renewed brightness, less inhibited by the city lights.  Serenity flowed through Scott’s mind like the waters flowing beneath him and his love.  Moving on, slowly, the two came upon a soft incline, where the grass was just a little shorter than the surrounding area.  Impulsively, Rebecca spun and flopped backwards onto the soft green bed, her hair bouncing about before resting upon it as well and, laughing, reached her hand out for Scott, who couldn’t help but chuckle at the sight of a grown woman playing in the grass like a child.  Kneeling next to her, he bent over to stare into her eyes and, using his hand for support, leaned in to kiss her.  It was well received.

They lay next to each other on the soft bed of grass, staring at the stars, their hands clasped tightly in between them.  Rebecca pointed out things moving in the sky, looking for a shooting star, perhaps.  Scott only smiled.  There was no more need for wishing.  They lay there for a long time, the need for words fading, while watching for flitting images in the depths of a sea of black.

Realizing he may have dozed off one or two times, Scott suggested they head home for the night.  Late nights with Rebecca were wonderful, but sleep was a luxury when you worked a full time job.  Truthfully, she needed rest, too.  Oftentimes, she would work longer hours than he and, despite Scott’s protests, she swore she was fine with it.  That, however, didn’t make it any easier for him seeing her work as hard as she did.  As he stood, Scott reached out his hand to Rebecca, who grasped it softly.  A thin smile came to Scott’s lips as she helped him pull her up to him.  It was kind of embarrassing that he wasn’t strong enough himself, regardless of his love’s admiration.  Returning to the paved way, hand-in-hand the two lovers walked once more.

It was obviously late, as the only person walking through the park, or as far as Scott could see, for that matter, was a ragged-looking man in a thick coat.  As they approached him, Scott frowned slightly as the man coughed violently into his hands, his whole body shaking and he almost said something to the poor man, but as soon as their eyes met, the man’s eyes darted to the ground and he hurried past with a quick shuffle of his feet.  Shrugging it off, Scott brought his attention back to Rebecca, who smiled at him brightly.  His attention suddenly snapped behind him, though, at a thudding noise and fit off coughing.  Scott turned and ran to help them man up from the pavement.

“Are you-” started Scott, but stopped as the man shook his hand at him and stood to his feet.

Her voice sweetly chiming in, Rebecca asked for Scott, “Are you okay, sir?  Do you need some help?”

Gruffly, the man answered, “No, I don’t need help.”  Scott could see the man struggling with himself as he said, “Perhaps, you could help…”

“What can we do for you, sir?”  Rebecca questioned.

The man swallowed hard and, speaking through dry mouth and ragged lips said, “I haven’t eaten in days… a lot of things have happened…”  Trailing off, he looked at the pavement once more.

Reaching into his pocket, Scott removed his wallet as he said, “There’s not much, man, but you can have it if it will help.”  Handing the man an assortment of small bills, Scott slipped his wallet back into place.  The man’s hands were trembling as he took the money and a feeble thanks escaped his mouth.

“Don’t worry about it…” Scott said, his voice trailing off as his eyes fell to the man’s coat pocket.  Oddly protruding from the man’s pocket, a black handle shook Scott slightly.  Stepping away slowly, Scott reached for Rebecca, still watching the man.  Still staring at the ground, the man spoke again.

“Do you have… any more you can spare?”  He asked, voice cracking.

As Scott replied that he didn’t, the man looked at Rebecca pleadingly.

She shrugged, saddened by the man’s state, and said, “I don’t have any money with me.  I’m very sorry.”

As he turned with Rebecca, Scott noticed the man’s hand begin to twitch.  Breathing deep, Scott tried not to make any sudden movements.  Just slowly walk away, Scott told himself.  Walk away and don’t startle the man.  Facing the opposite direction finally, Scott pulled Rebecca along at first, before she got the idea and began to walk with him.

Every nerve in Scott’s body tingled as the adrenaline rushed through his body.  He wanted to run; just grab Rebecca and run as fast as he could.  His steps felt like lead against the pavement, his body tensed, and the determination to get away made his mind race to the point where he could barely keep his steps even.  He didn’t even hear the man get close until the gun was at his back.

“Turn around,” said the man forcefully, “slowly.”

Scott closed his eyes for a moment as a lump appeared in his throat.  This couldn’t be happening, he thought.  Turning to face the man, Scott put himself in between the gun and Rebecca.  She was the important thing here.

“I want everything you’ve got,”  the man said, eyes wide and teeth bared.

Scott immediately pulled out his wallet and tossed it on the ground at the man’s feet.  Head tilting slightly, the disheveled gunman looked at the couple and motioned with his gun, obviously wanting more.  Anger welled up inside Scott as he threw his car keys to the ground.  Scott could hear Rebecca’s shaky breathing from behind him and knew that they had to get away somehow.

“Why are you doing this?!”  Rebecca shouted all of a sudden, her voice breaking down into sobs at the last few words.

“Shut your mouth!”  The man screamed at the top of his lungs.

Scott knew this man was crazy.  What he didn’t know was what he was supposed to do at a time like this.  With the gun pointed at them just a few feet away, the strolling lovers could hardly believe what was happening.  Scott’s body was tense all over, for there was no telling what would happen next.  Rebecca’s pleading words had been silenced by the abrupt commands of the mugger, all the while, the night sky sparkled with starlight as the wind rustled the trees of the park; the peace of the location a stark contrast to the turmoil of the situation at hand.

“Give me all your money!”  The thief shouted.  “I don’t like to repeat myself.  Put it on the ground and step back.”

Scott, still shaken, clumsily collected everything he could find between he and Rebecca, which didn’t amount to much at all, and laid it on the pavement.  The mugger’s eyes flitted to Rebecca’s hand for an instant and a lustful aura surrounded him.

“I want that,” he said, unmistakably referencing the engagement ring.

Scott began to protest, but Rebecca’s hand on his arm quieted him.  Turning to her, she spoke softly to him as she removed the ring.

“Without you,” she said, tears streaming down her face, “the ring doesn’t matter.”

Gritting his teeth, he took the ring from his love and laid it on the pavement as well.  Standing up, Scott’s eyes burned with rage and his muscles ached for action, but there was nothing that could be done.

“Step back!” Shouted the mugger again.

Complying, Scott took a step back slowly, keeping his eyes on the gun.  The gunman approached his reward on the pathway, gun still pointed at the lovers.  Disheveled clothes and hair combined with his crazed eyes were enough to convince Scott of the man’s desperate nature.  Enough to convince him the man would do anything to get what he wanted.

“Is this it?”  Questioned the unkempt thief.

Scott nodded slowly.

“This isn’t enough,” the mugger growled.  “You’ve got more. Give it to me!”

“We gave you everything!” Shouted Rebecca, shaking uncontrollably.

The thief’s arm twisted to the side and, almost simultaneously, a clap of sound cracked Scott’s hearing as he saw Rebecca fall from the corner of his eye.

“Rebecca!”  Scott cried out, looking to her.  Coughing, his love struggled from the ground to a knee.  The sight both enraged and relieved Scott, for, although she was hit, it was only in the shoulder.  When he snapped his head back around, the gun was pointing back at him, this time right in his face.

Swallowing hard, Scott stared into the eyes of the mugger.  “Okay,” he said in agreement with the mugger’s request, turning his head to look at Rebecca once more, but with his eye still on the assailant.  The thief glanced at Rebecca, too and, without thinking, Scott slapped the gun away with one hand and punched the crazed gunman as hard as he could in the side of the head, while screaming for Rebecca to run.  He pushed the disarmed mugger to the ground, but, unfortunately within range of the gun, which he picked up and fired at Scott blindly, grazing his left arm.  Pain shot through Scott’s body as the bullet lacerated muscle and skin.  Rebecca was running back to the city as hard as she could, screaming for help.

There was no other way.

“You should stop!”  Scott pleaded in a loud voice one last time, startling the mugger momentarily.  The man sneered at Scott, lifting the gun to eye-level.

Scott, resigned to the course of action in front of him, breathed deeply and sighed,  eyes staring at the pavement, “What I do now, I am forced to do.  I wash my hands of it.  So, plea-”

The bullet left the chamber without warning, tearing through skin and bone, dropping Scott where he stood; a gaping hold in the back of his head proclaiming the gunman’s victory.

The gun shook in the mugger’s hand as he stared at the corpse.  He walked slowly past it, the incredulous look on his face showing he never thought he’d take it this far; like he didn’t even really believe it was happening now.  The wind blew hard against the mugger, the chill suddenly cutting him to the bone.  A rustling sound behind him froze him in his tracks and he felt like he couldn’t breathe.

Turning around revealed a sight that had to be a lie!

A body, supposed to be dead, was on its feet, erecting itself from its slumped position.  As the body straightened, it twisted its neck as if stretching and spoke with a new voice.

“It seems you made the switch in time,” spoke the body, it’s new voice echoing across the old one.  “I never thought you would release me.”

The body waved a hand in front of its face and the bullet hole disappeared and it touched the back of its head, showing that it was obviously renewed as well.  Mouth gaping, the frightened gunman tried to scream, but nothing came out.  Tears fell across ragged cheeks as the trembling thief tried to flee but found his body too afraid to move.

The newly animated body standing before the murdering thief peered into the man’s eyes, speaking to his very core, “You pitiful soul.  Whatever you have done to warrant my summoning, let us hope it was worth it.”

Bowing itself in an elegant, sweeping manner, the body said energetically, “I do not feel it is appropriate to slaughter someone without first becoming acquainted with him.”  The echo within the voice drove fear through every part of the man.

Without willing himself to, the mugger spoke, “My name is Jeff.” The words flowed out, leaving him feeling betrayed by his own body.  Strength left him immediately and he could no longer stand, dropping to his hands and knees, gasping for air.

Laughing under its breath, the body lifted a hand in front of itself, “I appreciate your obeisance and humility, Jeff, but perhaps you should stand.”  As the body stretched out its fingers, Jeff returned to his feet, his limbs held in place by an invisible force.  “After all,”  the body continued, “I have yet to introduce myself.”  Dropping its hand, the body walked gracefully toward the still suspended Jeff, every step resounding within the terrified man’s ears.

Placing a hand on Jeff’s shoulder, the body smiled sadistically, “I regret that I cannot tell you my true name, for it is long forgotten to me.”  Sliding its hand to cup the side of Jeff’s cheek, the body chuckled, before whispering sweetly, “But as you pass into the next life, I suppose it is good to know the name of your destroyer.  As such, human, may your last thoughts dwell on the demon who found enough mercy in his damned existence to name himself for you.”

Leaning in closely to Jeff’s ear, the demon could feel the terror within the man; wanted to drink it like the sweetest of honeys.  Taking in the smell of horror, the demon spoke once more, it’s borrowed lips tasting its newfound name.  Fear.

“Know the name: Osoré,” the demon turned on his heel, walking away briskly, “and that your life is forfeit.”

Jeff’s eyes rolled back in his head, as every muscle in his ragged body tensed.  His breathing stopped and the body was allowed to crumple to the pathway, a lifeless sack of flesh once known as a man.

Osoré smiled to himself as he walked away with a dignified gait.  “Aneurysm.  Perhaps I’ve grown soft.”  Touching a hand to Scott’s abdomen, Osoré sighed, “You are the only one of your line to resist me this long. Your heart knows intimately the fear of which I name myself, but rest easy.  In gratitude for releasing me, boy, this shall be my only victim this night.”

Scott’s legs gave out and he collapsed to the path below, just a hundred or so feet from the body of a desperate man.  Sirens blared in the distance as a voice echoed upon itself within Scott’s tired mind.

“Be grateful.”

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Ragged-Looking Man in a Thick Coat

A Ragged-Looking Man in a Thick Coat

Standing at the bus stop, the same time as I stood at the bus stop every day, Monday through Friday, I let my eyes wander to the people around me.  The same people I saw every single weekday.  Oh, some might have different names, but they’re all the same.  These people shuffled about their lives, day after day, riding the bus to wherever they have to go and some don’t come back.  A thin black man coughed roughly into his hands and, as I glanced at him, I felt a horrible disdain for the world.  But mostly for the bus stop.  Deep gloom wrapped around every part of every person I could see and the people didn’t shuffle quite as fast as they normally did.
The day was cold.  I hate the cold.

On the bus, I saw more people.  Irritated at how many there were, I tried to keep my eyes on the back of the seat in front of me.  Invariably,  a woman with a lazy eye or a wrinkled man covered in liver spots would find his way next to my third row.  Left side.  Window seat.  Feet crossed.  Staring at… there it is.  A ragged-looking man in a thick coat sat softly beside me, but, thankfully, I couldn’t feel him there.  I thought, perhaps, if I hadn’t been looking, I wouldn’t have even known he was there.  Bus wheels squeaked as we stopped, squeaked as we went.  For the cold, we might as well have been outside.
I hate the damn cold.
The ragged-looking man in a thick coat turned and smiled at me, his eyes blaring.  The man’s teeth were rather clean.  Quite remarkable, actually.  I wondered how long he’d been so ragged.  I tried to ignore the man’s smile, but I couldn’t look away from him.  And the bastard wouldn’t stop!  Sure, he let his mouth close and his lips turn back to normal.  Hell, he even looked straight ahead, but he wouldn’t stop smiling at me!  Gritting my not-so-perfect teeth together, while my nose wrinkled slightly from the irritation, I thought about how many days I rode this bus and how many people I’d seen and no one had ever been this rude to me.
My mama always said, though, that I was supposed to forgive others when they were rude.  So, I turned away and looked outside to watch the lines go by.  One-two-three-four-five, while the buses engine rumbled against the back of my seat and my eardrums.  When I blinked, it took a little longer than normal.  My brain felt heavy.  I blinked at the road once and, when I opened my eyes again, there were different people on the bus.  The driver opened and shut the door at the stop.  People shuffled, always shuffling.  I’m glad people change sometimes when I close my eyes.  In my lull, I figured I’d look around to see if the people noticed each other, but I didn’t get to.
He was smiling again.  The only one who didn’t change when I closed my eyes.  He should change.  As he helped a young woman put her bag on the racks fly over our heads, he smiled at me.  Right through his back and that ragged coat of his.  People shared conversation on the bus… everyone shared conversation, but I couldn’t hear it.  I couldn’t hear the words they were saying.  The only thing I could hear was the bus and, since I knew they were talking, they must be whispering.  You only whisper when you have something to hide.  You only hide something when you don’t want anyone else to know.  I’m not talking.  No one’s talking to me.  Are they keeping it from me?  
Why would they do that?
Many more blocks passed outside.  The block with the buildings.  The block with the trees.  The block with the people who smell like grease.  The block where I decided everyone should change again.  Everyone did, except a smiling, ragged-looking man in a thick coat, who was leaning his head back against the seat, his eyes gently closed.  The door opened and closed, the cold air rushing in once again, stinging my hands and ears and nose and eyes.  I jerked away from the cold as it grabbed onto me and looked at the ragged-looking man in a thick coat.
I bet he hates the cold.

The bus driver and I knew each other well.  We weren’t friends.  I tried to ignore her enough and not bother her.  I tried not to even talk while I was around her, but that didn’t seem to matter to her.  I was on the bus and she told me not to be there anymore. That’s how things worked.  Today, though, it was different.  She didn’t tell me to get off the bus.  She told him.  She bothered to tell him to get off the bus.  She’d pointed at our seat, but she pointed at him, not me, and told him to get off the bus.  I knew what to do every single day.  Stand in the cold, get on the bus in the cold, ride the bus in the cold and get off the bus in the cold.  Even in the summer, when people didn’t wear their thick coats anymore it was still cold.  But, she didn’t tell me to get off the bus in the cold, she told him.
She told him to get off the bus in the cold.
He smiled larger than ever.  I thought I heard him laugh in that pitiful groan of his as he stood up and his joints popped.  He’s just so lazy that he sat on this bus all day long, smiling at me and talking with everyone to where I couldn’t hear it.  In the cold!  And, then, the bus driver tells this ragged-looking man in a thick coat to get off her bus into the cold, while he’s smiling and laughing and whispering and cracking and moving and shifting in his very thick coat.
I’ll get off your bus.  I’ll get off your bus.
The ragged-looking man in a thick coat moved slowly toward the exit.  So did I.  I was going to get off the bus.  Not the ragged-looking man in a thick coat.  Me.  He talked to the bus driver before he turned onto the steps to get off into the cold at the bus stop that was the bus stop that I stood at in the cold every day, Monday through Friday.
“Thank you for the ride,” he coughed out and smiled as he read her name tag aloud, “Katrina.”
“You’re welcome, dear,”  the bus driver said as she smiled back, looking like she was waiting for something.
The ragged-looking man in a thick coat coughed again.  This time several times, before squeezing out, “Jeff.”
“Have a good night, Jeff,” the bus driver said, still smiling as he got off the bus into the cold.
At least they aren’t smiling at me.

I followed the ragged-looking man in a thick coat for a while, in the cold.  He just kept walking, but for the first time, I didn’t feel him smiling at me.  We walked into the downtown part of the city.  The place with buildings and trees.  It was dark.  I forgot it was dark.  It’s always dark when I get off the bus.  And always cold.  I followed the ragged-looking man in a thick coat into the park.  The place with the trees and the water.   I don’t come here on the bus.
There weren’t many people in the place with the buildings and the trees.  I could only see the ragged-looking man in the thick coat in the place with the trees and the water, so I kept following him.  He might be going to tell people about the bus.
I saw him pass a thin man and some lady.  Then he fell down.
He does hate the cold.
I smiled.  I didn’t remember the last time I smiled and I turned to walk away as the two people reached into their pockets to hand the ragged-looking man in a thick coat some things.  I walked, I heard noises of some cars in the distance and some other loud things.  Things can be loud at night, too, I decided.  I thought about the ragged-looking man in a thick coat riding the bus tomorrow. The bus driver could tell us both to get off the bus tomorrow.
Maybe everyone hates the cold.

This is actually a prequel of another story that I wrote. I may or may not post that one. Haven't decided, yet. The main reason I wanted to post this one was just because of the strangeness of the main character. I often ponder what goes on in people's heads. I wonder, then, if there is anybody in the world who actually thinks like this man.


Sunday, September 11, 2011


We all make mistakes and one of those is to demand or even expect others to forgive us for making them.

The Need for a Recovery of Philosophy

This is a response paper from my Philosophy senior seminar at the University of South Carolina. It is untouched and unedited from its original format, so I apologize for any potential errors.

1. “This need and principle… is the necessity of a deliberate control of policies by the method of intelligence, an intelligence which is not the faculty of intellect honored in text-books and neglected elsewhere, but which is the sum-total of impulses, habits, emotions, records, and discoveries which forecast what is desirable and undesirable in future possibilities, and which contrive ingeniously in behalf of imagined good.  Our life has no background of sanctified categories which we bay fall back; we rely upon precedent as authority only to our own undoing….”
-John Dewey, “The Need For a Recovery of Philosophy, pg 231 of Pragmatism, edited by Louis Menand

2.   Dewey is drawing the distinction here between a text-book philosophy and a real-word philosophy.  It is one thing to take one (or more, but less than the total) aspect of the intelligence or the human experience and raise it above all others in an attempt to explain human intelligence and function in terms of that one (or more) aspect.  Instead, human intelligence should be understood as an amalgamation of a variety of things, not subject to such distilling and, indeed, not limited by the past understandings or dogmas held by (supposed) thinking men.  Truly, this conglomeration should include every aspect of the human experience and every human discovery in order for this human intelligence to make cogent hypotheses about the world and, following that, in making the best decisions in all areas of human life, be they government, religion, education or whatever other endeavor human beings partake in.  If humans merely rely on the past as an answer to the future, at least according to Dewey, it will lead “to our own undoing….”

3.   When Dewey speaks of “the need for a recovery of philosophy,” it is not so much that he is saying that humans need to pick philosophy up again as a practice (although, if by philosophy it is meant “better philosophy,” then perhaps he is), but that the current state (in his time) of philosophy was such that philosophers had concerned themselves with things that did not necessarily matter to anything outside their discipline of taking dead men’s ideas on test drives and trying to apply outdated systems of thought to modern problems without thought of what that means in reality. 

What Dewey would mean by reality is what actually happens… and all things actually happen.  He says, “While all that happens is equally real-- since it really happens-- happenings are not of equal worth.”  What defines their worth are the importance human beings place on them, perhaps out of necessity to their existence or merely by convention (such as the use of money as a means of trade).  To speak of a reality (or consequences of that reality)  that is somehow greater than the reality that human beings directly experience is to speak of something which humans have no apprehension of and actually draws human attention away from the issues at hand, whatever they may be.  Philosophy then, need be concerned with those things which are of direct interest of humanity: that which happens.

It follows, then, that any attempt to magnify one aspect of the human experience above all the others will, of course, skew this purpose of philosophy, because it will not allow the fullness of reality to come to bear on human intelligence, but merely a caricature of reality in which the artist has taken a feature which he has noticed more than others and expanded it so that when other men look at the picture he has drawn, they can initially see nothing but the enormously deformed feature and will come to judge all other things in the picture they eventually stumble across.  

For Dewey, the creation of a view of intelligence (an it’s application) which considers all these things will lead to “our salvation.”  It is not to say that all people will be willing (or even perhaps able) to think and operate in such a manner, but what is important here is that philosophers strive to create such a reality and foster the growth and articulation of such a thing. 

4. Within the scope of Pragmatism as a whole, many things have been considered: Peirce discussed “meaning,” James considered “truth,” and, here, Dewey speaks of “intelligence” and “knowledge.”  For the most part (with James being a slight exception), the three men have really been shooting at the same target.  Peirce’s “meaning” concerned itself with the proper defining of the terms which people so easily throw around; definitions not in terms of other words but in terms of reality.  James’ “truth” is really a way of talking about belief, in which the “truth” of things to people is reliant primarily upon the idea “working” for them in a given situation.  

What that will be taken to mean, in the light of these two other pragmatists’ ideas (and for the sake of consistency) is that something “works” in that it is the logical conclusion of all pre-existent ideas within the person, e.g.- “Daddy loves me,” “the floor is solid,” “I am hungry,” etc.  However, just because it is the logical conclusion of all the pre-existent ideas within the person, it doesn’t make it true (at least not in the sense Peirce or Dewey would put it), but it does allow the person to live effectively within their surroundings.  It is a giant puzzle (in which the puzzle is reality), in which not all of the pieces are present, and it forces the person to imagine the remainder of the picture in light of the pieces which he does have.  Even false ideas about reality are part of reality, so they would count as pieces of the whole, but that is really just mentioned in passing and it of no importance for the remainder of this discussion. 

Dewey, then, when he speaks of “knowledge” and “intelligence” speaks primarily about the discovery of the remainder of reality’s picture.  It means an open-minded (not being held back by pre-suppositions or the fear of being wrong) look at the world around man and creating a developing (and developing is key) world-view founded upon the observations, interactions, and thoughts of human beings and bringing the full weight of all those things upon man’s perception of reality, which will, point to what Peirce calls “the one true conclusion,” also called “the way things really are,” or “reality.”   What both these men are considering is a situation where human experience, expanding in all direction ad infinitum finally comes to the ultimate conclusion, which is reality.  This is not the same thing as an ultimate conclusion about reality, because that conclusion would have to be included in itself.  It is instead, absolute understanding of reality or knowledge of reality.  

The question here is this: Has Philosophy made the recovery that Dewey so eloquently pleaded for?  The answer is a resounding, “Maybe.”  The fact that papers are being written, classes being given, and conversations being had regarding this issue is definitely a plus.  It is less and less that philosophers are arguing with each other over things of no consequence and more and more that they are discussing things, defining terms, and struggling to come to agreement, instead of coming to a victory in debate.  Philosophers in a variety of fields of philosophy are coming to conclusions based on the very terms on which Peirce and Dewey talked about.  However, while there are some very good things happening, there also exist the “point-counterpoint” arguments of those unwilling to seek greater levels of understanding (as if the point and counterpoint were the only two options!), endless rehashings of ancient systems of thought without consideration of what they really mean in the grand scheme of things, and the general unquestioned acceptance of ideas based upon things like religion or political party-lines.  A resounding, “Maybe.”

What then, is the next course of action?  To seek truth without bias, of course; for things to be said as they really are meant (which is to say, the meaning of what one is saying); and the laying of all ideas, discoveries, thoughts, and the like out upon the table so that the current conception of “things as they really are” can be as clear as possible.  Of course this conception may change upon the formulation of new ideas or upon the having of new experiences, but that is part of the process.  It is a steady maturing of humanity’s  conception of reality, where each new idea or experience point more and more to “the one true conclusion.”

Pretty Red Fox

Pretty red fox
In a magnolia tree,
Please come down
And lie next to me.

Little red fox,
The wonder of you.
Is it your wish
To be with me, too?

Lovely red fox,
With eyes all aglow,
Do not be afraid,
You are welcome below.

And if you come down,
I promise you this.
I will stroke your soft fur
And give you a kiss.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I used to be really in to the whole politics scene, but then I lost interest in following, because it just seemed pointless. I thought to myself, apart from voting, what was the point of being informed on a daily basis about the goings on of politicians and the games that they play? I'm not in a grass roots organization, passing out literature or trying to influence the minds of voters or anything of the sort. There's no point!

At least that's what I thought.

I've come to realize that being informed about politics not only makes you an informed voter, but also keeps you from jumping on political bandwagons built on misinformation and propaganda. People making claims that they have no proof about or joining movements without regard to knowing what the movement is actually about is how really bad things happen: like the Holocaust, or the Communist "witch hunts" during the middle of the 20th century, or even politicians passing legislation they haven't even read.

Being informed on what the government is doing is my duty as a member of society. If I don't keep an eye on the government, who will? Even if there's just one topic that you follow politically, that should allow you to be fairly knowledgeable about the world of politics, because nearly every political decision makes enough ripples to effect other laws and political groups in some form or fashion. The mere implications of a certain law being passed or a court decision may be enough to make some difference in the area of politics you are involved in. I'm not saying politics needs to consume your life, but what I am saying is that 15 minutes a day and read the headlines. Pick out a couple of articles and read them at lunch or in your down time during the evening. Check out the evening news (regardless of the political swing).

Stay informed. I'll try to as well.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Not always right.

Have you ever stopped to consider that you may not be right? Not just in an argument with someone, but in your everyday actions.

Have you ever considered that you might not be that important?

Just a couple of thoughts before bedtime.