Next Generation Christian Kingdom Ch. 05byperl10©
This is a story of an alternate reality where there is a branch of Christianity that has rejected the dogma normally associated with sex.
Posted 27 Dec 07 -- Revised June 09
Chapter 5: To Protect & Empower
The very same morning that Marcia first woke up in the room she shared with Laura, Christopher Carlson found himself sitting across an imposing desk from Anthony Quillis; in Anthony's downtown real estate office.
Chris had been wondering if this day would ever come. He entered the kingdom's boot camp over fifteen weeks ago, and was seriously believing that he was never going to be selected by a squad leader. Most of the men he saw entering boot camp were selected within three to four weeks. There was one other guy who was selected after twelve, but no one was in it as long as he was.
This had perplexed him, because he thought he was much more talented than others that were selected faster than he was. He knew he scored better than most in all of his exams, and performed better in almost all of the sporting events he participated in. Towards the end he was tutoring many of the other guys with their studies, and was always one of the first selected when teams were chosen. Yet he kept seeing others being selected instead of him.
Chris was young -- just turned twenty one -- tall, blond and very athletic looking. He thought he was in pretty good shape before he entered boot camp, but after near daily physical competitions, he was now lean and hard. He was dressed as he was the past fifteen weeks in just jeans and a t-shirt. His posture in his chair was relaxed, but not slouching.
Anthony, sitting across from Chris, was a similar sort of man, but more harder and darker in appearance. With slightly graying, close cut hair, he had the look and feel of a Marine drill sergeant. He was dressed in a crisp, charcoal colored business suit, and sat at his desk as if he were a king on a throne.
He had been studying Chris for a few moments, before finally saying, "I'll bet this has been quite a morning for you. Tell me how you feel."
Chris exhaled, and just then had realized that he had been holding his breath. As he did so, he ran his hand through his hair as he tried to collect his thoughts. "I know this is something that I have been looking forward to for sometime, but now that it has happened, I don't know what to think. When I went into that boot camp I thought I would be learning how to prepare for my life in this kingdom, but I don't recall anything about it being covered. I have learned a great deal about history, math, language and art, yet I feel more in the dark now about what I thought I was going to learn than I was going in.
"I guess I'm just dazed, because I don't know what I have done now that I hadn't done the first week I was in that finally got me selected. I know I have learned more than anyone else in boot camp, so why it has taken me so much longer, I just don't understand."
Anthony replied, "Why your were selected, when you were selected, had nothing to do with anything you have done or learned. What you and all others outside of the kingdom call boot camp, we within the kingdom call the crucible. Do you know what a crucible is?"
"Strangely enough," replied Chris. "...or not so strangely... that question was on a recent exam. It is a vessel made of material that does not melt easily, and is used for high temperature chemical reactions."
Anthony nodded his head, "That's the dictionary definition. The literary answer would be something used to determine what something is made of. So the reason for what you have gone through isn't about what you have learned, but what we have learned about you. The length of time you spent in the crucible says more about us than it does about you."
"But why fifteen weeks?" Chris asked.
Anthony pondered what Chris asked, and then replied. "Before I continue I need to establish some ground work. As this day progresses I am going to appear to be evasive in some of my replies, but only because you have to learn other things before I can talk about what I am avoiding. Rest assured that by the end of the day there will be no major secrets left about this kingdom.
"You are almost a full member of this kingdom. All that you have left to do is to swear an oath, but I have to make sure you fully understand what that oath is before I ask you to take it. My intent for today is to be open and honest about everything, and the only thing I am going to expect from you is that you be open and honest too. To accomplish what I must today I need you to speak your mind, or I will never be able to believe you when you take the oath. Just saying words is meaningless to me. I need to feel that you believe those words when you say them.
"There are many things I will say to you today that will lead you to believe that I'll disapprove of what you are thinking. So what? There is nothing you can say that will get you kicked out of this kingdom, so say what you believe. You will not be punished. You can only get kicked out of this kingdom by your actions, not your beliefs. I have complete faith in the crucible, so I know you are the type of person we need in this kingdom, regardless of how much you may disagree with what I am saying.
"As you will come to understand of us in this kingdom, we do not see ourselves as perfect, which means we know we don't have all of the answers. The only way to find them is through diversity of thought, which means that if you believe you have a different perspective on something, then it is your responsibility to say what it is.
"The only word of caution I would give is that while we do seek diversity in thought, we do not seek diversity in our goals. Our goals are established through a strict chain of command. We want you to think outside of the box in accomplishing your duties, but you don't get to decide what those duties are."
Anthony shifted his position in his chair as if trying to take a closer look at Chris, then said, "I know you have many questions that need answering, but it's best if I begin by asking you some. I've heard from many people their account of how you came to be in my office, now I would like to hear it from you. What brought you here? Why do you want to be in the kingdom? And more important, what do you believe this kingdom is all about?"
"Sure thing Mr. Quillis..." Chris began.
"Call me Anthony," Anthony interrupted.
"...Anthony..." Chris continued. "A little over a year ago, I started working at this car dealership in the parts department. From the day I interviewed for the position, I was incredibly impressed by my manager. I'm not gay or anything, but he was just someone I liked being around. I could have found a better paying job, but I really enjoyed working there. Eventually I found that many of the people who worked there were like him, including the owner of the dealership.
"After a month I found out that what they all had in common was that they went to the same church. I wasn't looking to go to another church, but I thought it was at least worth checking out. My boss said that anyone was welcome, so I decided to go.
"I'm a Methodist, so I am always a little leery of other churches. My experiences with them have been pretty negative. They preach a lot of hell-fire and damnation, and not enough about helping our fellow man the way Jesus always taught. The last time I went to another church prior to this, a full-on pro-Iraq war rally broke out. I was horrified.
"But this church was nothing like that. It was wonderful. It was all about people deeply relating to other people through Christ. It was easy for me to go back again and again. While I have always enjoyed going to church, I now looked forward to it more than ever.
"I also made new friends there that were really quite special. Through them I learned about this kingdom. Some of these friends belonged to it, and others didn't. The ones that belonged to it never really talked about it, or for that matter, never really avoided talking about it either. It was just there.
"I'm not to sure how to explain it. I could tell it was important to them, but they never made me feel like I was on the outside because I didn't belong to it. All that really mattered was that we all worshipped Christ. So eventually I saw it as an extended family, and nothing more.
"Things changed when my friend Pete said he was joining the kingdom. He told me that he was going away for a few weeks, but I would see him soon. A few weeks stretched out to four before I saw him again, and when he returned, he had clearly changed. He was more confident and vibrant; the same kind of qualities I saw in my boss.
"When I asked him about what it was that had such a positive impact on him, all he could say was that it wasn't a secret, but it wasn't something he could explain either. It was just something I had to experience. Frankly, when he said that, it gave me the creeps. Yet I couldn't deny the results that were staring me in the face. It was then I decided I had to join.
"Up 'til then, I just assumed it was the church that made people like my boss, but now I saw that it was the kingdom. I asked Pete about joining, but all he could say was that it would be at least a few years before he could recommend people for entry. He suggested I try my boss.
"So I went to him, and told him how impressed I was with everyone I knew who was in the kingdom, and asked him if I could join. His response was a bit cryptic. He said 'There is nothing magical about the kingdom. It's just a family by choice, rather than by blood. The only real difference is that we place a lot of expectations on each other. If you're not able to become the kind of person you think we are on your own, then there is nothing the kingdom can do to help you. Are you sure you want to join our kingdom?'
"I said I was, so he told me he would nominate me for submission into the kingdom's initiation process, but it might take a while before there is an open slot. I asked what that would entail, and he said that I should think about a military boot camp, but without all of the screaming and yelling. As such, he said, I had to demonstrate that I could motivate myself to excel, and would not need any coercion to do so.
"It took a couple of weeks before I finally got in. The last thing my boss said to me was that my job would be waiting for me, so no matter how long it took, be patient with the process.
"Little did I know how patient I had to be. Monday through Saturday it was fourteen hours a day of studying, taking tests, exercising, and participating in physical competitions. Sunday we caught a break, because it was only ten hours. For a while there I actually lost track of time. If it wasn't for the daily logs we had to keep, I doubt I could tell you no how long I was in there."
Chris paused for a moment to collect his thoughts and finally replied, "There is no doubt that I learned a lot. I just wish I could understand what that was all about, and why I didn't learn anything of the kingdom."
Much to Chris' disappointment, Anthony wasn't ready yet to supply any answers just yet. "Just a few more questions Chris. What were you told by your drill instructor when you began your training about what would be expected of you?"
That was a tough one for Chris, because it was so long ago. "I can't remember the exact words, but it was something like I had to demonstrate that I believe that my time in the boot camp was not a waste of my time regardless of the outcome... No, that's not right. It was more like that I should be grateful for my time in the boot camp even if I was never selected to get in."
Anthony nodded his head. "Close enough. Unlike college students, we need people in our kingdom that are not interested in just pursing a degree, or any other artificial rewards. We need people that see education as its own reward. So if you believed that what were doing wasn't worth doing for its own sake, you would never be selected. Yet this is not the primary role of the crucible.
"You talked about how much you enjoyed our church. How would you describe the brand of Christianity there?"
Chris was a little confused by the question, but he answered as well as he could. "I really enjoyed the outreach for the poor, and the real difference we made in peoples lives. I also liked how it wasn't focused on keeping people out of hell, and more about enriching the lives of everyone. I guess I would call the church a liberal Christian one, at least that is what it seems to me."
Anthony replied, "That's a fair enough description, but I wouldn't use the word liberal. We prefer to describe ourselves as tolerant Christians, because we are very open minded to what ever you may feel is the right way for you to follow. Liberal implies a political bias that we don't believe belongs in church.
"This brings me to the function of the church and the crucible as they apply to getting people into our kingdom. We use the church to filter out the religiously intolerant, and we us the crucible to filter out the politically intolerant.
"The people who are very adamant and intolerant about what a person should believe religiously find our church very frustrating. They really need to hear a lot of 'hell-fire and damnation,' as you would say, in order to be reassured that what they believe is correct. Since they don't get that our church, they just end up moving along.
"While the church has other functions besides filtering out undesirables, the crucible does not. It's sole purpose is to eliminate the politically intolerant. Can you guess how it does that?"
Chris was even more confused by this question. "No, I can't. I don't even know what you mean by politically intolerant."
"It's pretty simple." Anthony replied. "If you believe that only your solution is the right solution, and all people opposed to your solutions are also against your goals, then you are politically intolerant. Basically, you believe that things have to go your way, and if someone is against your way, then they are also against you.
"With this understanding, can you now see how the crucible filters them out? Think about what you went through, and whether at anytime you felt that you wanted to just give up and leave."
"I felt like giving up many times; probably everyday for the past eight weeks. I still don't see what you mean," said Chris.
"So why didn't you give up?" Anthony continued to prod Chris.
"I'm not sure," said Chris. "No one appeared to be giving up on me. My drill instructors continued to insist that I learn more, and physically develop more. It seemed to me that I would be letting them down if I gave up."
"Very good answer, Chris. It was your proving that quality about you that convinced me you would be a good person to select for my squad. You need to remember that as we move forward today.
"The type of person we are trying to filter out in the crucible we have a simplistic label for, and that's liberal."
When it looked like Chris was about to protest, Anthony headed him off. "I know, I know. You think you're liberal, so how come it didn't filter you out. You need to realize that you are liberal in name only; most liberals are. When we look at liberals we don't see one monolithic group; we see two. The people we are trying to filter out are the liberal elites, or those that will soon become one.
"You call yourself a liberal because you agree with the stated goals of the liberal elites. Yet you do not have the core values that we abhor in them, which are completely incompatible with the purpose and goals of this kingdom.
"Our crucible filters them out in three ways. The first is by establishing a routine from dawn 'til late at night of intense learning and physical competitions with no breaks or days off. This goes against their sense of how they must decide for themselves what to do in their lives, and they usually give up on this alone.
"The next thing that drives them off is the curriculum. There is none of the multi-cultural, revisionist-history nonsense that is the norm at universities these days. If they last the first few weeks they are usually gone when they actually have take tests where the correct answer is some thing like the fact that our Founding Fathers established the United States of America as a Christian nation. The government they established was secular, but they believed they were establishing a very religious nation nonetheless. This absolutely burns the liberals and their ridiculous notion that freedom of religion requires freedom from religion.
"In your case, you may have disagreed with what you were learning, but you didn't complain about it. This is no different than what conservative students have to put up with when they go to college. They have to nod politely when the liberal professor goes off on one of his socialist-centered rants. They are not allowed to answer tests, or do homework based on their beliefs, but on what the professor wants to see if they want to get a college education. Yet when liberal elites have the tables turned on them, they buckle.
"The third and final way the crucible filters out the people we don't want is through delaying their selection into the kingdom. As I am sure you saw, most of the people were selected within three to four weeks. But there are two different groups that we hold off selecting. One group is the people we think will make good leaders, so we want to test their mettle. The others are anyone we think might be a liberal elite.
"The hallmark of a liberal elite is how obsessed with fairness he or she is. They will not tolerate anything they think is unfair. When they see people they think are inferior to them get selected into the kingdom ahead of them, they just see this selection process as being unfair. They will look right past all of the personal development they are going through, and just give up when they don't get selected when they think they should.
"How unfair did you think it was when you weren't selected until now?"
Chris replied as if he was still trying to connect the dots of what he went through. "A little I suppose... but fifteen weeks!? Was that really necessary? How long could I have been held in there?"
"How long?" replied Anthony. "There is a limit, but it's not a timed thing. Every person who enters this kingdom has to complete what we call the prime curriculum. If you don't finish it in the crucible, you will finish it later as a member of the kingdom. All of our children are expected to complete it before they graduate high school. You were on track to complete it in another three weeks, then we would have had to let you in anyway. So yes, there is a limit.
"What created problems for you is that you didn't just identify yourself as a liberal. You also went on to say that Jesus Christ was a liberal. Just how certain of that are you?"
"Very certain," Chris said quite confidently. "There was never a greater advocate for the care of the poor and downtrodden than Jesus. They idea that he would be on the side of the rich and powerful is absurd. I could quote you hundreds of versus that clearly show him as a liberal. Care to hear few?"
"Save it," Anthony said dryly. "You can derive any meaning you want from any verse you want. People have been committing great acts of evil by doing just that for almost two millennia.
"Instead, allow me ask you a few questions. Do you think Jesus has commanded each of use to care for the poor, or do you think that he has commanded each of us to demand others to do it? Or how about giving to the poor? Do you think he only expects you to do it if you can also force others to do it against their will?"
It would appear that Anthony's questions were rhetorical, because he went on without waiting for a response from Chris. "I'm not against your goals Chris. My problem is with your chosen methods. You have much to learn about politics, and one of the hardest for you to grasp is that politics are not your core values. Politics are how you choose to express your core values. People who are politically or religiously intolerant -- without exception -- believe their politics are part of their core values. That is specifically why they are so intolerant.