Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Foray into Fiction: “Jehu’s Jihad”

The screaming became the dying and the dying became the dead, and all was quiet, except the panting and scuffling of the soldiers. I focused my world into the agony of slow and secret breaths. One by one, I held my lungs in a measured starvation to stay quiet and alive. My world was the dark mute pressure of dead arms and legs and torsos slick with sticky hot blood, the copper tang of it thick in my nostrils.
—From “The lamentations of Baalzakar” in “Jehu’s Jihad

It was quite an honor to have my first fictional work read on Seth Andrews’s The Thinking Atheist podcast today, one of the most popular on the Internet. Seth directs his show toward those who “assume nothing, question everything, and start thinking,” to borrow the show’s tagline. He runs it in “a polished format, a relaxed environment and a rage-free challenge to the religious beliefs that defined his youth.”

Read it here

I have listened to the show for years now, beginning when I was first realizing that there were issues with my own childhood religious beliefs. Podcasts are a great way for wavering souls to get new perspectives and some reassurance on their lonely journey of doubt, all in the privacy of a pair of earbuds. There are a lot of great shows about secularism nowadays, and Seth’s is one of the best.

Seth read the first of my story’s three parts to cap off today’s show. Hearing one’s writing rendered in the smooth, measured voice of a talented radio professional is certainly a treat. He thought it was well done, “a nice way to add some depth to stories of bloodlust and torture and execution and all the stuff that the Bible speaks about so bluntly, like bullet points.” It was a way, a “semi-fictional” one, “to go in and get into the minds and hearts of those who killed so many with the edge of the sword.”

And they did it in God’s name, as the passage he read from 2 Kings 10:30 says about Jehu: “The LORD said to Jehu, ‘Because you have done well in executing what is right in My eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in My heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.’”

If you are a Christian for whom the Bible is the Word of God, the highest authority in your life, this is a problem. Your God ordered and praised the very kinds of outrages being committed by the barbaric psychopaths of ISIS not a hundred miles from where this story is set. Jehu cut off his share of heads, too, piling them in heaps outside the gate of Jezreel.

Give it a look. I really enjoyed the week of research and writing it took to produce. In the months ahead, I’m guessing that there will be more entries under the “Fiction” heading over in that sidebar.

I’m also considering a whole book of Bible stories written like this. “Jehu’s Jihad” would be one of a dozen or so chapters providing dramatic narrative for the scriptural stuff that gets passed over in sermons and Sunday school. Perhaps the next one should be “Have Another Drink, Daddy” about Lot and his two daughters. Fifty Shades of Grey sold pretty well, after all.

The reading makes up the last 21 minutes of the episode entitled “Bedtime Bible Stories (that will terrify your kids),” available on The Thinking Atheist website and on YouTube. Thanks, Seth.