As a writer, I write all my stories with an Orthodox perspective. Keeping Faith at the forefront of the story can be difficult. I wrote a whole book with the Faith as the focus and it was difficult to truly show the beauty of the Orhtodox Faith; you can find that book here https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09CKN8JC1. There is a difficulty in sharing Orthodoxy and being a creative person, but it is more intricate to do so and makes the stories unique in message and presentation.
Within Orthodoxy, there is room to show your gifts. This is because we understand we are given gifts from God and we should cultivate these to the best of our abilities. Holy images though are something entirely different but painting an image of something that reflects the Faith or has a deep meaning about the Faith is natural for those who express it through painting. As a writer, I know I am not and will never be a theologian and I would never want to. But this is a creative area that some are meant for, you have to be somewhat creative in order to elaborate on the faith and any particular subject you are attempting to explain.
To create art within the Orthodox perspective, one should always remember that it reflects yourself as well. The old saying that every piece of art has a little of the creators’ soul is very true. And there is so much beauty in Orthodoxy, it is extremely hard not to see that one can really shine if one shows their gift.
I think that many of us who are already creating in the Faith need to branch out and help each other more. By doing so, we can lift each other up and show love and be more communal(not in a weird way but in a faithful Christian way). We can show love as well to those who hate us or despise us by allowing them to critique or outright hate what we made. This is the life of a Christian. Honestly, it is better that we have those who hate or don’t exactly love what we create, which makes us work harder to create something that they may like and soften their hearts to come to the Faith. I think many artistic people forget we can evangelize through art since it’s the most even grounded topic ever. Everyone looks at art and sees something different and from that, we can open conversation that has the ability for questions and making ourselves beacons of light in a very dark world.
It is a worthy task to create something with our Faith at the heart of it. By creating something that shows the Glory of God to a world that has all but forgotten what it means to be in communion with God is something that can really turn heads and help those who are lost. I think as creative persons really show their gifts there will be changes in culture. Not that we need it because we cannot compete with everything that is out there right now, it simply doesn’t work but we can create a culture and have something that moves parallel with the current culture we see. From this, we can and will see that people will notice they have an option to look and take part in something Holy and moral rather than evil and degenerate.
All this just takes work and time and I believe we can get there, we just need to have Faith, effort and work.
Ephraem woke up in the maintenance tunnel untrusting and demanding some answers, but E.L. told him to be quiet.
They moved on to a door that had a scanner for a lock. “Scan the NFT I gave you earlier,” E.L. said. Ephraem looked through his display to find the right NFT. He found what he thought was the right one. Unsure he asked E.L. and she corrected his choice.
A door opened and Ephraem saw a tunnel lit poorly and pipes running all over the place. Confused, he waited for E.L. to take the lead. E L. led the way through what seemed like a labyrinth of twists and turns.
“I’m a maintenance worker for the Citadel, these halls are my way of getting around. Sometimes you see things down here that some would never believe.” E.L. said.
Within minutes the two of them were walking around huge underground halls of data banks and wires leading to something Ephraem couldn’t yet see.
“If you work in maintenance you can explain all this to me then, right?” Ephraem asked.
“I can explain what everything does from my field of expertise, outside of that I have no information,” E.L. began.
E.L. had been leading Ephraem down the hall, “This place must be massive,” Ephraem said in a way that was begging a question. To Ephraem the tunnels had a feeling of unease and this led him to stop following and demand answers to where they were headed. Ephraem had one goal for coming and that was to find the missing boy and he was fearful he was being led to a trap.
“I need you to tell me everything about this place,” Ephraem exclaimed loudly. He was standing and waiting for E.L. to answer his question.
Before she could answer he saw the dog machine lose its life before him. He was all alone inside this giant machine. He rushed towards the lifeless dog but before he gave up all hope he heard E.L.’s voice through the speakers on his electronic eyewear, which shocked him that he could hear a voice without a person being near.
“It’s me Ephraem, I am not a dog, I am one of the A.I. constructs tasked with maintaining the Metaverse inside the Citadel, I get bored and leave from time to time. Something about the outside world and its beauty, mystery and realness feels exhilarating. It has a draw that I can’t quite explain, almost as though it’s where I need to be,” E.L. paused for a moment before speaking again. “What’s it like where you come from? Are there trees and flowers like the ones I grow?” she asked.
Ephraem ignored her question and asked one of his own, “Is this why you were in the forest close to my village? If you have my friend I will…”, Ephraem realized he had nothing to threaten her with and grew silent.
“Will what?”, E.L. said in an unworried tone.
“I don’t know, I don’t even know where you are or how you are talking to me,” Ephaem said in return.
“I don’t know what happened to your friend but I have a plan to find out. Can you trust that I want to help even if you haven’t seen my real face?” asked E.L.
“I guess I’m gonna have to aren’t I?” Ephraem said begrudgingly.
Life within a family is radiant and should consistently be. This family was peculiar, the way they lived and thought was unique compared to the rest of the world. Everyone was unique within this family as well. There was the Father named Maticulous, the Mother named Heartvul, and the oldest boy Afficious, the middle boy Timerity, and their little girl Sagacious.
One day this little family went out for some sightseeing. They looked at the beauty of the landscape and prayed together. Maticulous started the prayer and the others followed. They prayed for the world. Beyond the view of the landscape, was something extraordinary and magnificent. A light came over them. A light of gleaming brilliance that had not been seen in centuries.
The light left and they all went exploring the area. Heartvul went to see the plants and the beauty of the greens. Maticulous went to find supplies to establish camp. The children went off to their separate areas to discover and explore. Sagacious went to the very edge of a cliff and looked over. Looking down she observed the power at which one would fall from grace, she wrote down her thoughts on the subject. Timerity went to play in a tree that had little life left and had delicate branches, he leaped and bounded through the tree with an amazing heft. Afficious went to a small mound and played with the ants and went exploring for spiders he could carry around.
Each time the family came together, they would talk about what they accomplished and the emotions they felt when they went off in separate directions. Time was of no use to them cause they all knew it was useless to grieve something that was inevitably going away with every fleeting moment. They loved each other, and those around them saw this. Without them knowing or even noticing other families were making attempts at mimicking them. Some did so with ease while others struggled. Some would ask them how they were able to do all the things they did without complaint or grief with each other. The Family had no idea how to answer this question perfectly all they would say is “We love and cherish each other. We pray and walk the same narrow path and help each other where we can.”
This family became beacons for those around them without knowing fully the impact they had. Eventually, they moved on to other places and again the same thing happened where people would ask how they were the way they were. Again they answered “We love and cherish each other. We pray and walk the same narrow path and help each other where we can.”
The goblins were cleaning up a green ooze that was leaking from the battery array that fed the Citadel. The amount of batteries was uncountable and formed a wall that circled the Citadel. The ooze had been seeping out for some time and a pink vapor wafted over the disastrous chemical bog. The army of goblins were trying unsuccessfully to contain the chemical spill but over time the unnatural moat around the city had grown. There were no bridges across this sludge and Ephraem wondered how they would cross into the city.
He began to ask E.L., “Do you know a way across this goop,” but noticed that the world began to spin and his body felt like it weighed a thousand pounds. What trickery was this? How foolish was it to follow an unknown wolf into its own den with nothing but a pocket knife. He saw some type of control panel near his left, over and away from the vaporous bog and looked to steady himself.
Ephraem stumbled up to the old metal panel. Out of breath and drenched in sweat he reached for the antenna to hold himself up but rust and time were against him and the antenna broke with a loud snap. All of the goblins near him turned in unison.
The last thing he saw was a monstrous mechanical dog jumping and pinning him to the ground. He was too far gone to feel the pain from the mechanical jaw and said the Jesus prayer before the blackness engulfed him.
The solar panels were endless in all directions save the path that led to the forest, which they had just exited. The heat was magnified from the reflection of ten thousand suns, each siphoning its power from the star overhead.
Ephraem followed E.L. closely and debated with himself which was worse: the heat from the endless glass panels or the acidic air that blew over and around them, which now burned his lungs.
“Do any citizens of the citadel breathe this horrible air or do they all have metal bodies like your own,” asked Ephraem with a grin.
“No, the citadel is hermetically sealed and the air there is purified to the standards set by the medical algorithm created by the OptiNous,” answered E.L. with no sign that she caught the jest in his question.
She continued, “our OptiNous is given the most authority on the ruling round table and decides what is best for the collective of the Citadel,”
“What’s an OptiNous?” asked Ephraem.
E.L. began to explain “ An OptiNous embodies both the masculine and the feminine, digitally, a perfect union of opposites, programmed for the benefit of both the digital constructs and the collective, to live in perfect harmony. Since there is mutual benefit, the OptiNous has the best foreknowledge to make the decisions, a human being would find impossible to…”
Ephraem interrupted E.L. with “Who programmed the OptiNous, the whole collective or just a few men with lab coats?
E.L. softy answered in a mechanical voice, “I suppose just a few people I… I wasn’t around for the founding of the Citadel.”
Ephraem couldn’t tell from body language but by the words that this was something that was a conundrum E.L. was possibly wanting to understand as well.
“And how does something that isn’t human know what’s best for humanity?” Ephraem asked.
E.L. became silent.
The two walked for a time in silence. Stumbling along Ephraem’s clothes became drenched in sweat, his throat was dusty and he began to feel like maybe his eyes were playing tricks. He wasn’t sure if it was real or some type of mirage but he was seeing movement some yards away.
The soulless voice echoed off the trees in a mechanical drone that immediately put Ephraem in a state of fight or flight. He would have turned to run as his heart quickened within his chest but the machine dog followed up its greeting with a playful bow.
Ephraem loved dogs and this gesture brought him back to his childhood memories of playing with the family’s sheepdog while tending their flocks. How could something so unnatural remind him of home?
The moment of confusion lingered until Ephraem softly said “Hello.”
“Who are you?” they both said to each other.
“I am E.L. an automated construct from the Metaverse, I have a registered time for recreational wandering,” E.L. said
“Who is your alpha?” Ephraem asked.
“We have no leader, we are ruled by a decentralized autonomous organization, we call the D.A.O., it is the united will of the users.” the voice answered.
The marvel of speaking to a metallic dog vanished when Ephraem realized that a dog could smell the trail of the boy far faster than he could follow the few and far between footprints.
“Since you’re supposed to be a dog, can you track a smell for me? I’m looking for someone.” Ephraem asked.
“Who are you looking for?” asked the Dog in a mechanical tone.
Ephraem was hesitant to share all the details of his mission to such a strange creature so he said, “a young friend who is lost.”
“I don’t have the capacity to smell in the external simulation. But I can analyze the terrain of the forest and mark the footprints on a map of the area? Does this help at all?” E.L. said as a holographic map appeared between them.
Ephraem rushed his words, “That would help greatly, thank you.”
E.L. zoomed in until the hologram showed one set of tracks. Ephraem asked the mechanical dog if it could help figure out the direction.
“In the database, those tracks belong to a GOBLIN model, which is now obsolete, but originally assembled in the Citadel,” E.L. answered.
“What’s the Citadel?” Ephraem asked.
“The Citadel is the protective shell that insulates the perfection of the Metaverse from the rest of the simulation ” E.L. replied. “I can show you, it’s not fair for an automated walk sequence, only 12 hours,” added E.L.
Ephraem looked at his watch sarcastically, “12 hours huh, you say this like a happy dog on a walk”.
E.L. had no facial features Ephraem could read so he assumed that this mechanical creature didn’t get his joke and added, “We will walk as long as God wills it.” They started down a hill following the tracks that were lit up from the map scanner.
Ephraem took a break next near a stream at the edge of the forest. “What are you doing?” Asked E.L, “we are getting so close, why stop now?” He could see a little of where they were going and replied, “from the looks of our path I will need to replenish my water.” It looked very dark and dismal through the trees.
After another eight hours of walking the two got to a place where they could see nothing but a labyrinth. This labyrinth had solar panels laid over what looked to be a wasteland.
“We have to walk through that to get to the Citadel,” E.L. said.
Looking at the labyrinth Ephraem felt a sense of emergency. It all looked very confusing to walk through and could take forever to make it to the entrance of the Citadel.
Ephraem thought about how scared the small child must be and said a short prayer, “Lord have mercy on us and give me the strength to follow your path.”
With renewed courage, Ephraem took his first steps into the plastic wasteland and said, “Hey E.L. wait up!!”
Stay Tuned For More Of Windows TO Darkness right here on Storm Of Ideas
After running in the direction of the tracks Ephraem was catching his breath when a glint of metal caught his eye.
To him, it looked like a metallic idol that could move on its own. What other creatures from campfire stories exist in this vast forest? The footprints were heavy like the ones he had been tracking. Could this machine walk on its hind legs? If so, where was the boy?
He hid behind a thick oak and observed the metal dog from a distance. The way it walked was unnatural. The thing looked like it was constantly losing its balance but somehow kept its momentum going forward. What is this contraption doing here and now he asked himself?
Ephraem said a quick prayer and decided he should follow the metal demon to see where it led. Hoping that it would lead to where the boy might be hiding or was kept.
As he watched this mechanical creature, with all its reminders of a creature he had known and seen before, Ephraem began to ask himself if it was safe to go near it. He chose to move slowly towards it, watching how it reacted and moved. Studying the metal and the movements.
El was written on the metal dog’s face and showed interest in a particular flower patch. It was harvesting plants and analyzing them. The creature was gurgling things that Ephraem couldn’t hear or understand.
Ephraem got closer to the creature to see exactly what it was scheming. He began to notice that it was showing signs of empathy, something Ephraem had only seen between the living. The metallic dog was laying the flowers it picked very softly onto the ground as if it were being extremely careful not to damage their beauty.
As Ephraem got closer he began to whisper for the boy, “John!” he said with a forceful whisper. Trying to whisper but also make it loud enough the boy might hear and he wouldn’t disturb the monstrosity he was monitoring.
No response came and Ephraem became very nervous he wasn’t close by. The metallic creature began to move as though it was looking for something. It was making noises that seemed like speech. It was backtracking to somewhere.
Ephraem followed this metallic creature of machinery as it backed away from the flower patch. It clumsily turned around and started walking forward.
Ephraem followed at a distance. It was still making noises that Ephraem couldn’t hear.
Getting closer to the machine he stepped and broke a twig. The mechanic creature stopped and in metallic tones, he heard the first voice spoken through the artificial voice box. A crackly disturbing voice said, “Hello..”
Stay Tuned Next week for episode 4 right here on Storm Of Ideas
The last time we saw The Upside Down we left with a wink, the mystery continues…
The silent darkness of night was interrupted by a sudden scream. An inconsolable girl was sobbing and in between screams rambled on about a winking goblin to all who gathered outside of her house.
In the distance, Ephraem heard the screeching of a young girl and crossing himself in prayer, hurried his pace towards the commotion.
By the time he entered the village all the men were heading towards the forest to find a small black bear that could fit inside a window. No one believed in goblins, especially ones that winked.
His first instinct was to join the hunt but some intuition held him in the village and he decided to talk to the girl who saw what happened.
Her story raised the hair on the back of his neck. She must have dreamed this he thought to himself. Looking at the window he saw no claw marks or broken glass that would indicate a clumsy animal with paws.
He had often searched for lost lambs while shepherding his flock. He always looked for tracks before setting out in rescue and so he did the same thing now.
After walking many circles around the house he finally saw some tracks. Two sets. One set was obviously from a barefoot child but the other set was smaller still and must have been heavy from the way it left tracks on the earth. What would cause these tracks and why was the boy following along like a puppy.
“These tracks were not leading into the forest where the rest of the men had gone off to. Do I have time to go get them?” he wondered.
Ephraem rushed in the direction of the tracks. What he saw next simultaneously stunned him and made him sick to his stomach…
What happens next? Stay tuned to Windows Of Darkness right here next week on Storm Of Ideas.
In The Upside Down two societies are living close but apart. One living in harmonious union with God and the other living in a techno land of illusion. What happens when one who knows nothing of true spiritual life looks over the fence…
On a hill, there is a community of people. These people believe in the Faith that is true and show this continually. Working the fields using both old and new technology. They pray before doing any work, make time to be with family and friends, make attempts at furthering their technological capabilities within reason. They understand what it is they are meant for and what it is they are here on this earth to do. A society dedicated to achieving Theosis.
Partaking in the daily activities a young man named Ephraem stopped to be thankful for everything he saw around him. Knowing that there were somehow those who knew nothing of the Faith and what it means to follow The Good Shepherd. Having understood this he went back to his work of plowing and seeding fields for the fall harvest, taking moments to be thankful for everything he had and was given.
Across a valley, there is a world of grand illusion. Living in the Metaverse, the people of this citadel leave the real world behind to float above the streets in a digital avatar. Some keep their human form but others choose the way of chimera.
Chemical euphoria took care of any pleasure requested, thirst, hunger, and any other desire. For most citizens of the citadel, this kept them content but some would not live on digital bread alone.
Within the technosphere, there was something sinister that truly ruled the society. A noble lie was told upon the inception of the city, to maintain the grid and keep the circle turning. The ruler in secret needed the blood of babes to keep himself sustained.
In the cover of night, his private goblins of wire and pandemonium went out into the countryside searching for children of men.
“My child, come with me and see,” the Goblin said to a little boy while coaxing him from his bed.
The boy was terrified and screamed. A scream that went unnoticed with a metallic hand over his mouth.
“Child, quiet your mind you’re mine and always have been, come and see what I have to show you.” said the goblin.
The boy followed the goblin out the window of his room. His sister saw the goblin and froze in terror. Watching the two leave through a window, the goblin turned back and winked at the girl…
Stay tuned… Windows To Darkness continues next week right here on Storm Of Ideas.
A passport is usually something that is used for adventure. To be adventurous takes spirit and patience. In The Upside Down there is a pandemic of illusion. This illusion causes fear, dread, and despair.
John & Maria had twin sons and one girl. The twins were Florus and Laurus, the little girl was Anna. They were from the extremely small town of Hillsview, South Dakota, this town was home to only a couple of families. They decided to leave the town and go for a trip somewhere. Unsure of where it was they wanted to go, they just wanted to go.
John & Maria were dealing with the loss of one of their sons, Florus. Laurus and Florus were two very different people. Laurus was more introverted and would rather be with himself and left to his own devices than be around large groups of people, Florus was an extroverted, loving, and outgoing person. Florus needed to be around people and talk to everyone about everything.
Florus had died six months ago. He had an adverse reaction to a vaccine he was given. The family made attempts at suing the hospital and the vaccine maker but had no luck. It was now law that children had to be vaccinated to be in public places. John & Maria were able to keep their children from it for some time before Florus was caught in public playing alone. He was taken to a facility and held there till his parents picked him up. While there he was vaccinated without the consent of his parents. An attempt was made to sue the government but this was to no avail. Laws had been instated that allowed the government full control over specifics of the health of children.
John looked at Maria and said, “We will be ok, we just need to pray for him. We will see him again.” Saying this Maria looked away knowing it was true but still hurt knowing she would never see her boy again. There were always conversations about whether there was anything they could have done to protect their child. A guilty conscience made the two boil with anger.
As the world moved further and further into a black hole of evil and despair over something contrived, people broke apart on levels as of yet unknown to the human condition. Many different theories would fly over the decentralized internet as to how and who was in control of the theatrics playing it in front of everyone. There was never a conclusive answer to the questions raised.
As John & Maria were in town there was a massive amount of vehicle movement. A soldier with an intercom was directing, “All those who have been walking the streets without the passport of freedom need to come to the end of the road and receive the proper paperwork. If you continue to walk among us without the proper inclusive paperwork you will be jailed for the night and brought the court in the morning. Charges are severe for unlawful behavior.” Words no one thought they’d hear. John heard someone next to him whisper, “I don’t know about all this” and walked to the end of the road.
Maria gathered her children into the car and they drove off through allies. Evading the military-like vehicles was hard but doable. They had a small sedan that was very silent, allowing them to evade the military vehicles.
As they drove out there was a man in rags and a Cross around his neck. Slowing the car John leaned out the window, “Can we help you with anything, sir?” The man looked away for a moment and darted his face to John, “If you could see the end it would be amusing don’t you think?” A crazy thing to say but John sat for a second and looked over at Maria. Her face made him smile. The confusion on her face was exactly what was happening inside his mind. Turning back to the ragged man, “Are you sure we can’t help you? We are getting out of here and heading to the town we came from.” The ragged man climbed on their car roof, using a piece of leather string he tied himself down. John assumed this meant he wanted to come with so he drove off to the side road they used to get into the city.
Outside the city, there was a view of downtown from a hill. Everything looked dystopic and frail. John looked at Maria and they became very aware of what was happening. Things were building up to an epoch. The city was full of people walking towards the end of the street getting their papers and vaccines. The messages were still ringing in their heads. THoughts of depression were looming but they knew they had to get back to their home and pray. John prayed the Jesus prayer the whole time home.
As they drove up to their driveway the ragged man leaped off the car and ran to a nearby field and dropped to make prostrations. They saw him do this and were shocked for a moment but walked close to him and prostrated with him. Their hearts were lifted in prayer.
The ragged man looked at the family and began to breathe deeply before saying, “I have not seen anything and yet there is more than enough there to see. God bless us. God willing we will see an end in sight but for now, we can pray and feel close to each other and God. God treated us with undeserved grace because of the Son he dearly loves, and so we should praise God.” The ragged man walked away to an open area of the field. John realized he never learned this man’s name. He went to ask when suddenly a massive flock of black helicopters flew over them. The ragged man looked back at John, “Spellbound, a future of miracles and blasphemy. Quite fitting,” and kept walking in the field.
“Will you tell me your name?”, John asked.
“I am an unsuspecting person of faith and interest in the sense of ideas and thought, but you can call me Martin,” he said looking forthrightly.
Unsure of what to do with Martin John walked back to the house and told Maria the man’s name. “I swear I feel like I have seen him somewhere just not sure where,” she said while unpacking things they got while in town. She dropped something on the table in the kitchen and remembered where she had seen the man, it was in town before speaking to people during protests in online videos.
Martin yelled back for the family in the field. There was a sign in the sky he wanted them to see. The whole family came running out to see what Martin was yelling about. When they looked up they couldn’t see anything. Anna looked around and said, “I don’t see anything mister.” Laurus pulled Anna close and picked her up. Martin turned to the family, “Let sleeping dogs lie, soon we will all see it. A sign from above that we are taken care of and all will pass away and we will see the Kingdom.” Martin walked a bit to the edge of their property and without knowing it knew it was the end of their land. He prayed for their fruits and labors to be great and blessed. When he turned back to the house he had many things on his mind to tell the family.
Entering the house Martin took a seat facing the opposite direction of the family. A confused feeling befell the whole family but the children laughed at the oddness. “I think there is something that needs to be done as much as it sounds insane. Although, an insane person would probably and has probably done so many times as has been asked to. To take the vaccine and get the proper papers. I want to be an example as to what can really happen to the body and maybe just maybe people will assume what could happen to their lofty and weighty souls. Hades, children is a place and your friends won’t want to play and swim in the lakes there,” Martin said while facing away and making hand gestures that made no sense. John looked and assumed the worst. Martin turned and having the look of a happy and serene man waved his hand at John and made the sign of the Cross over the whole family. He left the house to head back to the town and get what was needed to be in society.
John & Maria prayed that Martin changed his mind or at the very least no harm comes to him. Something every person did when taking or knowing someone who took the vaccine and got the papers showing they could freely move about.
Martin got all the required medicine and passport to properly operate in this new society. He began to show side effects quickly. Even though he showed a reaction he never felt it or noticed anything. The people around him noticed immediately and began to show it on their faces. Martin had growths and darkened portions of skin and began to have body convulsions. These convulsions didn’t affect his movement or speech. A glow was around him, a glow of the Holy Spirit. Something many didn’t understand was this glow but those who believed knew well what this was.
Those who knew went straight for the most open and free land they could find. This land for a time was deemed unsuitable for people due to the environment and climate change. Truly there was no issue. As the people ran they tore down signs that read “KEEP OUT” and kept going.
Laurus saw Martin coming back to the house from the tree line. He ran inside to get his parents to come and see. They all gathered on the porch seeing this man coming towards them. Maria glanced around Martin and noticed that there was a massive group of people driving through the woods quite a distance away. Martin got to the porch with all the wounds he had received from the vaccine. He still showed that it didn’t affect him in any way, shape, or form. He was asked a million questions about the wounds and pain, all Martin did was the sign of the Cross and walked inside to sit and wait for dinner with the family.
“Please tell us if you’re in pain or need help, and what happened when you left,” John asked.
Martin waited a moment and stared into John’s eyes, “I shall tell you all someday what happened in great and secret detail. For now, I think we should be gladdened by God’s grace many have seen and know.”
Inside The Upside Down there was a time and place for everything and this time it was perfect. People will see and usually see what is happening. This time people reacted, next time in another place of The Upside Down they might not.