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Ekklesia: A Story

This is a short story that I'm posting here as it is part of a discussion I am having on another forum. Please be aware the story contains strong religious content that most people will find politically incorrect and therefore offensive.

by Alan Loewen

The cell was spacious and large and in shadow due to the one bare electric light bulb that served as the room's sole illumination. People filled the room, some standing, some sitting, none talking. With the exception of one young girl huddled weeping in the arms of another, the room was as quiet as death.

One disheveled young woman, her rumpled dress speaking of a more prestigious time, broke the silence with a cough, the loud noise shattering the silence like a rifle shot. The others jumped. Some stared at her in momentary surprise at being reminded of the presence of others. The rest went back to their isolated musings.

"All they asked me," she said to no one in particular, "was what I thought about Jesus Christ."

All eyes turned to look at her.

"I mean, don't you think that's funny? Of all the questions they could have asked, all they asked me about was my opinion of him." She shook her head sadly.

A man stepped out of the shadows, a clerical collar around his throat. "That's all they asked me, too. They didn't ask me about the Virgin Mary, or the saints, or the Pope."

"Or predestination or tongues or eternal security," added another. His voice faded as he wandered away in his thoughts.

The young girl holding her sobbing companion spoke into the darkness while absent-mindedly stroking her friend's hair. "They didn't care about my stand on hell or my thoughts on feminism or what I thought about politics," she said. "All they asked me was, 'Who is Jesus Christ?'"

Another voice spoke out of the darkness, a man's voice turned old. "The same. Not my view on talk radio or politics or public schooling or anything else."

One by one, they spoke, some in wonder; some in anger; some in bewilderment. For all of them, their entire existence had been boiled down to one simple question whose answer separated them from society and placed them in this dimly-lit room.

The sound of a key turning in the lock made them all jump. The door opened and an elderly man stood framed in its light and smiled benevolently at the people before him.

"Such an inconvenience," he said apologetically. "I'm so sorry. We so wanted you all to rethink your position and take your place in society once again."

He smiled and spread his hands in a placating gesture. "Is there anyone who would like to change his or her mind about this one unimportant subject?"

The sound of a collective sigh filled the room, but no one spoke. The man's face changed from a kind smile to a grim sneer. "As you wish," he said. "Come."

He moved aside. The hallway was lined with soldiers standing silently with rifles at ready.

The people walked out of the room, blinking in the bright light of the hallway. Walking through the gauntlet of soldiers—some walking alone, some supporting others—they went through an open door to a small courtyard.

The far wall was chipped and broken. Dark stains covered the ground.

The soldiers pushed and shoved the group against the brick wall and formed a rough line facing them. The elderly man slammed the door behind him.

"The people," he said, reading from a tattered paper held in his hand, "wish to graciously demonstrate leniency. If anybody, even now, will refute their superstition that the man known as Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that salvation is obtained by faith through his death and supposed resurrection, they will be free to go and take their place once again in civilized society."

They blinked at the man owlishly. At first, nobody spoke.

A voice quietly broke the silence. "Our Father which art in heaven," it started quoting, "hallowed be thy name." The rest of the group slowly joined in, their hands reaching out for other hands regardless of color or gender or age or philosophy or politics or church.

"Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."

In disgust, the elderly man folded the paper and jammed it back into his shirt pocket. The soldiers looked bored.

"Give us this day our daily bread," the people quoted, some weeping, some smiling; others standing without visible emotion.

"By decree of the will of the people,"

"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."

You have been sentenced to death ..."

"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;"

"for crimes against mind and reason ..."

"For thine is the kingdom,"

"and against the peoples of this great nation.

"and the power,"

"Firing squad! Attention."

"and the glory,"


"for ever."




There was the sound of angels.



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 10th, 2011 07:08 pm (UTC)
A powerful scene
It's definitely a powerful scene and written by someone from whom I've come to expect good writing. What troubles me is that, more often than not (today and throughout Christianity's history) those who call themselves Christian are the ones doing the persecuting.

The popular view among Christians is that Christianity is always under attack and some day the dark forces will try to snuff it out. Sadly, Christian Soldiers throughout time were the ones doing the snuffing. To this day lack of Christian faith often ends one's political career in the US before it's begun. At its worst, Christian terrorists are bombing abortion clinics, beating and killing homosexuals, and protesting funerals in Christ's name.

Taking history and present-day violence in Christ's name into account, I can't help feel a certain measure of anger when I see the "persecuted people" card being played by Christians.

Don't get me wrong. True Christians (the ones who just ARE, rather than those who call themselves such) are among the kindest-hearted people (as are true Muslims, Hindus, etc.). I don't begrudge anyone their faith. I even believe Jesus Christ was a powerful spiritual man, perhaps uncommonly enlightened. I just cannot stand willful blindness to truth (as Jesus could not, judging by his own gospel). The truth is, Christains are among the largest group of persecutors in the world and are hardly in a position to play the role of the persecuted.

Are some Christians still persecuted? Sure, in some parts of the world (where another powerful religion is the majority), they're actively persecuted. Mostly, though, the hypocritical ones are merely criticized. It's a collosal difference to which most Christians seem willfully blinded as they bemoan their "persecution."

I apologize if any of this seems bitter (please accept my word that it's not intended to be) but the message your short story sends flies in the face of readily-verified, long-standing, and repeatedly-proven fact: Many Christians are some of the most eager to persecute nonbelievers … even to the point of execution.
Jun. 10th, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC)
Re: A powerful scene
You live in a different world than I do, apparently. Where I live, being a-religious is the norm. Funny how that works.
Jun. 10th, 2011 11:27 pm (UTC)
Re: A powerful scene
(Author of the comment to which you replied, here.)

I say this without snark: I'm not sure what point you're trying to make but it sounds like an interesting one. Could you please clarify and elaborate?
Jun. 11th, 2011 04:35 pm (UTC)
Re: A powerful scene
I agree with you, Haiku.

And perhaps someone should tell Mister Anonymous that people are more likely to take your arguments seriously, be they online or in real life, when you provide actual documented and provable examples of what you're saying and don't hide your real identity.
Jun. 12th, 2011 10:46 am (UTC)
Re: A powerful scene

Thanks for the comment. I see in hindsight I should have clarified the story. The point of Ekklesia is not about persecution at all, but what defines a Christian and the issues Christians normally have conflicts over. However, from your point of view I can now easily see your interpretation.

In response to your other points, all I can say is that I have hung around Christians all my life and probably know tens of thousands of them. I can honestly say I don't know a single one that would bomb an abortion clinic, kill a homosexual, or picket a funeral. In fact, I don't know a one who wouldn't hesitate for a New York minute to turn any lunatic who wanted to do any of those activities into the authorities for the former two or disdain the funeral protestor for the latter and I hang out with a rather conservative bunch. Honestly, I don't know a single Christian who would persecute a nonbeliever even to the point of execution.

But there is one small problem with the broad brush with which you paint. If I have to answer for the actions of Tomás de Torquemada, then do you not have to answer for the actions of Joseph Stalin? If I have to answer for the insanity of the so-called Westboro Baptist Church should you have to answer for the depredations of the Sturmabteilung?

You don't need to answer that. The answer is no. The simple demands of intellectual integrity prohibit me from laying the crimes of marauding atheists at your feet as it flies against the face of all logic. The actions of the few do not define the actions of the many. The actions of the few that completely contradict the tenets of the worldview (whether that be Christian or atheist) do not negate those tenets.

I respectfully encourage you to rethink your position. It appears you've been reading too much of Hitchens and Harris and need a better balanced view of history.

Jun. 10th, 2011 11:45 pm (UTC)
I've read it several times & still like it. It's powerful and thought-provoking without going into a lot of detail. I like that the background story/setting is left up to the user. Is it the Anti-Christ during the Great Tribulataion, an Islamic nation, America in a few more years...
Jun. 14th, 2011 05:49 am (UTC)
In light of your post on U & G pub, while powerful there is one fatal flaw: the issue who we must answer the question “what I thought about Jesus Christ” It not the oppressive state in your story but to the very king of glory. While I believe the will be Catholics, Charismatic, Armenians, followers Pelagianism, and Semipelagianism in heaven but as a testimony to God grace and bringing to himself in spite of bad theology. Still many more will be on a road to hell lured into a false sense of security.

Patricia Bowser
Jun. 27th, 2011 03:27 am (UTC)
I don't know if this thing will show me as anonymous since it seems you have to choose the from name. Anything to make it more compllcated. If not this is Patricia Bowser.

I liked the short, short slice of life style you used for this story. It gives no back story, time, place, or situation which leaves it open to all of time and multiverse. It is clean and to the point. It is an excellent technique for a snipet like this.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )