Eyes like soft sand.
“The most important part is the eyes.” Mitchell said, leaning close to the static, lifeless cat. He stood up straight, “That’s what he’d say anyway. I can still hear him saying it.”
He curled his head around to see his wife, Georgia, carefully stepping around the room. The two had wandered into the den, every inch of wall space covered by a mummified animal.
Georgia held her purse tight to her stomach and stared deeply into the eyes of a mounted Jackalope.
"I can’t understand why someone would want some dead thing as a decoration.”
“They aren’t dead.” He said, completely turning to face her. His left hand, firmly hidden in his coat pocket, thumbed his silver ring.
Georgia dropped her arms to her side and pushed out a hard laugh,“Honey, I think they’re about the best definition of dead: shot, skinned and pinned.” She gestured a finger gun at a Jackalope.
He shrugged and kept his eyes on the wall of dead animals. “Death isn’t about being gone forever, not thinking; it’s about not having anything else to say.”
“Martin told you that?”
Mitchell lifted a squirrel from his perch on the wall, petting him smoothly as if he were alive. His wife turns, waiting for his answer. He makes the squirrel dance, bobbing back and forth crudely.
“You got yourself a friend there?” She jabbed. “Put him back. Mitch — “
Smiling, he paraded the squirrel over to her. It nibbled at her neck rabidly. He chirped for its dead vocal chords.
“Oh my God! Get that thing off of me!” She commanded, her eyebrows pinched.
She reeled back a step to avoid the squirrel’s pursuit. Her husband chuckled, now to himself, admiring the little creature.
He answers her calmly, memory still fresh, “He’d say that if there wasn’t anymore stories left to tell about you, then you’d be dead.”
"I can feel him here."
"What do you mean?"
"In all of these — things."
"What about them?"
She picked up a baby chicken by the nape of its neck. “If death isn’t when your story ends — I don’t know — he must have wanted people talking about him for a long time.”
Quietly, he slid the rodent back on the wall, “The eyes are the most important part because that’s where you look first, it tells you everything about them. Even people.”
Georgia turned around and locked eyes with him. They were cold and metallic but despite that, the warmth in his face drew her near.
"Did you ever help him?"
"He’d make me skin them."
Gently, she pulled away.
"Squirrels are the easiest," he said, tracing his fingers along the wall, "all you have to do is pull. Birds on the other hand — all those feathers — "
There was something child-like about him, but this same thing made him seem all the more unsettling.
They wandered into the parlor. Sunlight stuck behind the drawn curtain kept the room feeling mossy and damp.
Along the wall opposite the window are framed cases of insects. The centerpiece of the display was an enormous moth, his wings mosaic and proud. From behind, Mitchell rested his cheek on the top of her head, the moth a magnet to his eyes.
“An honest to God liar.” He murmured.
“What?” She asked.
“It’s what he used to tell people… if they asked if he was any good.”
"God, I’d say he was — look at these."
In his memory, he could hear a voice, he was young and it was old and the voice told him to always have a good lie to tell. The moth’s giant yellow eyes on his wings did not blink but became deeper like fine quicksand. A flush of brown surged in the center of its scaled wings.
Georgia sauntered away but he couldn’t take his eyes off of the great insect, its stare too magnetic.
That’s when the lie escaped from his mouth. It wasn’t the first time he had lied this lie, but it certainly felt as such.
“I love you.”
Back then, the visions… most of the time I was convinced that I’d lost it.
But there were other times I thought I was mainlining the secret truth of the universe.
Reportedly, there are 4,200 religions in the world to date. In a 2012 poll, the world’s population is 59% religious; the rest are non-religious or atheists. On average women are more religious than men.
What is a religion? That’s a trickier question than one might assume. Merriam-Webster defines a religion as —
: the belief in a god or in a group of gods
: an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods
2.2 billion people on the planet carry the name Christian, making it the most pervasive, most populated religion in the world.
What kind of religion is Christianity? Who or what is at its center?
Looking at passages of the Bible with Jesus makes it hard to reconcile that Christianity is indeed a religion. Often, Jesus speaks against the religion of the time, Pharisaical Judaism, bucking the system and challenging common beliefs. This Judaism resembles what most people think of modern Christianity: judgmental, rigid, ritualistic, and hypocritical. Jesus rises in anger, getting in the religious leaders faces, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” Jesus did not teach hatred of those who disobey God, but rather, he claims (and his followers claim) to have died for those very people. He died for his enemies.
Early in its history, Christianity didn’t resemble a religion, but a social revolution — challenging beliefs found in the ancient world. In the beginning, there were no designated temples or buildings for worship — the church took place in people’s homes. Not until the the news of Jesus had permeated the culture of the time had the construction of a place of worship begun.The biggest belief that was challenged by Jesus was that of the doctrine of karma — you get the equivalent of the bad or good that you put out into the world. He challenged the legalistic teachings of the time — teachings that ring familiar to religion today: obey this and get that.
Jesus taught on the subject of restitution: forgiveness of outstanding debts and wrongdoings. In fact, with his death and resurrection, he reveals the doctrine of grace into a world ruled by the moral cycles of karma. With belief in Christ as God himself and what he stood for, there is a break in the cycle, what comes around is not what goes around any longer.
The early Church had “not a needy [person] among them”. All shared their possessions and wealth. Jew and Gentile commiserated in what was considered a “sinful” manner. The belief of classism was smashed upon the universal grace — all are forgiven, none stand taller than any other. God cursed mankind as one and redeemed them just the same.
What kind of religion is Christianity?
It is the invasion of the culture of heaven — it is how things ought to operate, how they were intended, it is all that is right and correct, what people strive for all around the world without realizing it — the Kingdom of God.
Days of nothing. That’s what it’s like, you work cases. Days like lost dogs. Goes on like that. You know the job. You’re looking for narrative, interrogate witnesses. Parcel evidence, establish a timeline, and build a story day after day.
Music is the breath of God and He just went for a run.