My 2006 NaNoWriMo novel. Woo! Note: since I am posting as I go along, the storyline is backwards. To read this, start from the oldest post and read to the newest.

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Location: Los Angeles, United States

I am an awkward, stubborn, slightly insane woman who would rather talk Plato than Prada, rather watch Frank Capra than Carrie Bradshaw, and rather listen to Norse myths sung in Icelandic than anything currently on the radio. Yeah. Told you I was weird.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Chapter 3

To: Jason Slocum
From: Angie Parr
Subject: I hear dead people!
Ok, so not really. But I wanted to send you a few more thoughts on the subject, plus an apology for being a jerk about it yesterday. I spent so long being unable to talk to saints, that I get a little testy when people try to take it away again.
Let me put this in a series of questions; it's how I tend to think best.
1. Is there resurrection of the dead, or not? If so, what happens to them until then?
2. It's been traditionally held, ever since Christ said "Today you shall be with me in Paradise," that the souls of the dead go somewhere, usually thought to be Heaven, until the bodily resurrection. Is there any logical reason to doubt this?
3. Does God hear prayers? If so, then talking to someone who's beyond you, that you can't even see, is perfectly logical.
4. The Holy Spirit has always been known by communications, by allowing people of different languages to communicate as at Pentecost, and by helping all believers communicate with God, and hear Him. So, if the Spirit is with each believer, and the saints are with God, why can't we assume the Spirit allows us to talk to them as well?
Again, no real answer here, but some very leading questions! The whole "communion of the saints" thing is very probable to me, and I don't really have any reasons to doubt it.
But then, it's the sort of thing that's very easy for me to believe. I wanted to believe in it, even when I wasn't allowed to, back in the churches I grew up in. But that may not be the case for you. It may be harder for you to believe it, my answers may not answer the questions you are asking, and my ideas may not be probable on your account. All that's fine, but I do encourage to try to see why so many people, from so many different walks of life, have believed in prayers to the saints.


"Play the man, Master Ridley, and we shall, by God's grace, light a fire in England that, I trust, shall never be put out." Hugh Latimer, at his matyrdom by fire

To: Angie Parr
From: Jason Slocum
Subject: re: I hear dead people!
I should apologize myself, for being such a jackass yesterday, too. I'm trying to be better about that, but I'll probably always be sarcastic and over-critical. It's why I'm so cuddly and lovable, you know.
I hear your arguments, and I'll just have to think about them. It makes reasonable logical sense, but it still seems crazy. I promise to get back to you on that.
By the way, some questions were raised in my Bible class the other day, and I'd like to get your response. You mind? Here's the questions:
What is holiness? How does something become holy? What does it mean that God is holy?

"I can't see where you're leading me unless you've lead me here, to where I'm lost enough to let myself be lead."
"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

To: Jason Slocum
From: Angie Pass
Subject: Holiness
Sounds like a fun class, if you come up with questions like that! Assuming they're serious, of course, but I've heard he's a really intense teacher, so that's good.
What is holiness? Well, I've heard the definition is "set apart." Set apart from what, and for what? I would normally say set apart from the mundane, but "mundane" means "of the world," and the world (the physical one, of course) seems to have a great deal of holiness in it. Grass is mundane, but the more I look at it, the more holy it appears.
Maybe set apart from dirtiness, casual use? Ooh, I think I like the idea of it being set apart from casual use. Like good china, or something.
How does something become holy? Well, to at least some extent, it has to be a gift. Nothing here is entirely untainted, so the holiness has to come from elsewhere. But it seems a thing or person can be made or make themselves into a proper vessel for holiness. Like an altar: just a pile of rocks until the sacrifice is made, but the sacrifice wouldn't have been made there unless the pile of rocks was there.
What does it mean that God is holy? That's the million dollar question, isn't it? I sort of want to say that it means God cannot be taken lightly, or for granted. I think, being the source of holiness, it would also mean that anything He touched would become holy. Is holiness contagious?
Ok, there's my rqambling thoughts. Now quick picking my brain and go do your own homework! :)

"Ok, class, let's get started. I presume you all did your homework, along with the response to the questions, so I won't bother asking. You can all set them here on my desk at the end of class." Dr. Kendall picked up a piece of chalk from the blackboard ledge and turned to face us. "Does anyone care to share anything from their response? Mr. Tyson? Miss Ward? Mr. Johnson, perhaps?"
Katie nodded slightly and rose, straightening her skirt slightly. Clutching the paper tightly, she read in a quiet voice.
"What is holiness? Holiness is purity, a way of being in which goodness comes naturally, being like God. I picture it sort of like an aura that sort of surrounds you and keeps you from touching or doing anything you shouldn't.
"How does something become holy? I think that God has to make something holy. You can't do anything to earn it, he just gives it to you. But maybe you have to do something to keep it; be good, and study your Bible, and pray.
"What does it mean that God is holy? It means that He is the purest, best, biggest thing there is. He can anything else holy, because He is holiness."
She sat down quickly, a bright red blush spreading over her face.
"Very nice, Miss Ward. Anyone el-yes, Mr. Tyson?"
Luke stood up, grinning like a schoolboy, hair sticking out every which-way from underneath his knitted cap.
"Holiness is something that only God can do, because it's a lot of work, and makes you never sin and you can never ever have fun because that would be bad." A few chuckles arose from the class.
"Things become holy when Baby Jesus smiles at them or touches them, and people become holy when they're old and wrinkly and don't want to have sex anymore." A few more chuckles, and one distinct snort: I thought it sounded like Mandy, but couldn't be ure.
"God is holy, because who else would want to be?" Luke sat down amid a few muted cat-calls from the class.
"Mr. Tyson, I shall assume that was meant to be satire and move along. However, if you're going to do satire, I recommend you read Erasmus, Luther, or even John Donne. You're not particularly good at it." A few more cat-calls, but then the class subsided again. "Let's see now, Mr. Johnson, you were particularly vocal the other day, as well, let's hear what you have to say.
Isaac stood up, cleared his throat nervously, and stuck one hand in his pocket, as he attempted to project an air of non-chalance.
"What is holiness? Holiness is a quality, an attribute of a person or thing, denoting its special status. Holiness cannot be innate, except in God, but must be bestowed, or possibly constructed.
"Objects or people become holy by actions, associations with actions or holy persons-as in the case of relics and shrines-or by special grace from God."
"What does it mean for God to be holy? It means that He is the only one capable of judging, and the only one who can bestow holiness on anyone or anything else."
Clearing his throat again, he dropped into his seat, rubbing his hands across his face.
"Very...cut-and-dried, Mr. Johnson." Dr. Kendall looked at him over the tops of his glasses. "However, I'm going to ask you a question, and I'll ask that you give me the first answer that comes to you. Are you ready?"
I could almost see the nervousness build up in Isaac-it was like he'd gotten plugge into some kind of electricity. He seemed to be scanning over everything he'd ever read in preperation for the question.
"Mr. you want to be holy?"
Isaac seemed to hit a mental wall: he had never seen that particular question coming. "Uh....."
"First response that comes to mind, please."
"I....I don't know."
"You don't know if you want to be holy?"
"Perhaps you've defined holiness inadequately, Mr. Johnson. I strongly suggest you go back and think about it some more." A few scattered laughs could be heard in the classroom, but several of my classmates seemed to be deep in thought. I don't think they'd expected that question eihter. To tell the truth, neither had I.
"Ok, anyone else?" Silence. "Anyone want to take issue with anything said so far? Yes, Ms. Thompson?" Oh drat, that was Mandy, raising her hand.
"Yeah, I take issue with Katie's comments."
"Surprise, surprise! Please continue; what do you find objectionable?"
"Well, other than just about everything...? I mean, come on!" Mandy's voice took on a high-pitched, syrupy quality. "All you need to do is live a good life, and read your Precious Moments Bible, and pray, and never ever say a naughty word or watch a PG-rated movie." I glanced over to Katie, who seemed to be trying to shrink into her seat. "Get real, Katie. Nobody lives like that, and nobody should. Guess what? It's ok to watch an R-rated film! It's ok to kiss your boyfriend! It's ok to say 'damn,' you know?" She sat down heavily, as if in disgust, and propped her feet up on the back of the seat in front of her. "Come on, all this talk about being 'holy' sounds like someething out of the Middle Ages."
The classroom was completely silent. Katie look like she was trying very hard not to cry, and even Luke was quiet, for once.
"Well. That was certainly an opinion, Ms. Thompson. However, I think we need to work some on your self-expression." He paused, glancing at a sheet of paper on his desk. "Let's see here, who else was in that discussion last week...Ah, Mr. Slocum." Dr. Kendall looked up at me, an enigmatic expression on his face. "Care to weigh in?"
A dozen thought ran through my head at once. There was the first immediate impulse to try to lighten the mood with a little humor, followed quickly by the urge to join in the mockery of Katie's simplistic ideas. My own pride told me to read off my own response paper, which came to the same conclusons as Katie had, but was better worded, and probably more completely thought-out. But one quiet voice under all the others kept speaking:
"I agree with Miss Ward, sir." The silence fell again; Katie took a quick glance backward, looking surprised.
"Really...Interesting. Care to elaborate?"
"No, sir. I might rephrase a few things, and add a few things, but that's essentially it."
"Hmm...Ok, well, I think that's enough discussion time. Let's get back to the regular lesson plan." He turned to the blackboard, and began writing.
Forty minutes later, class was dismissed. As I gathered my papers, I felt a slight touch on my elbow. I turned to see Katie. She smiled at me and mouthed "Thanks," then she walked through the door into the late afternoon sunshine.
"Mr. Slocum, Ms. Thompson, I'd like to see you both for a moment. Mr. Slocum first, if you don't mind, Miss Thompson." Mandy shurgged, and sat back down, flipping open her cell phone.
I went up to the front of the room, where Dr. Kendall leaned on the lecturn. "Yes, sir?"
"I'm curious as to why you responded as you did this week. Earlier this year, even last week, I'm not sure you would have done the same thing. So what happened today? I'm sure that when I read your response paper, I'll find that it's more thoughtful than Miss Ward's."
"That may be so, but would it have helped anything to say so? I do, in fact, agree with just about everything she said, though I'd probably phrase a lot of it sooner." I sighed. "Of course, my ideas are pretty theoretical at this point, and I'm very sure that lives the way she talks about, and worries that she's not doing enough."
"I think you're probably right. She's a lovely young lady, and I'm sure that she appreciates your words today." Dr. Kendall gave one of his rare non-satirical smiles, and straightened up. "Ok, you can go ahead and go now. I just wanted to pick your brain a little. Miss Thompson, I'd like to see you now, please."

Name: Jason Slocum
Response to 3 questions in class.

1. What is holiness? Holiness is a set-apartness, a quality that insists that the bearer of it be seen and treated differently. For instance, a Eucharistic chalice would not be seen as a beer steain.
2. How does a person or thing become holy? To a certain extent, it must be something inherent in the person or thing, that allows for holiness to enter. I think for human beings, the image of God allows for holiness in us. A catalyst, if you will. For things/objects, it's probably relation to a holy person, or a holy event. Holiness impacts everything around it. At the same time, holiness is ultimately gift of God. Human beings may be able to make themselves more suitable for holiness by spiritual disciplines and prayer.
3. What does it mean for God to be holy? God is the source of holiness. Therefore, if anything is holy, it's because it reflects and incarnates the holiness of God. God can never be seen as irrelevant, common, unimportant, or "suited for common use." In short, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.


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