June 26, 2012


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

H Trope: Horrible nights

(DISCLAIMER: I don’t believe any of this, but the horror is that some people DO! And the ones that do…are more than likely the ones who will launch a “pre-emptive”…to make sure “the government” doesn’t “get them” first…)

Matt Ringsonn and Elianna Daboh are active in their churches in an urban high school as well as in an early-morning school Bible Study. Their parents aren’t QUITE as active as they are, and are sort of worried about how “fanatical” their kids have become…but they are OK with it. Both sets of parents keep giving them time to get to know each other by leaving whenever both the kids are at one of the houses…

Matt and Elianna are called to the principal’s office one day and warned that their Bible Study group is getting “a little too pushy” with their religion and several people have complained about intolerant behavior on the part of the Study. Their supervising teacher has been removed and another teacher, one who has a more congenial belief system will be leading them.

The new teacher leader tries to take over the group and brings copies of THE RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE OF MANKIND by Ninian Smarth for them to use instead of their Bibles – “a much more eclectic and educational endeavor”. The kids try it, but eventually ask to go back to their Bible Study. The teacher refuses and report to the principal that they are recalcitrant, insulting and generally unruly and should be disbanded because they don’t represent the true cosmopolitan attitude of the high school.

The kids start meeting to study the Bible – and the group grows.

Then one day the police liaison officer shows up at their early morning meeting and issues tickets for meeting in an unsanctioned place in a public building and conducting “hate meetings”.

A week later, all of the Bible Study kids are called out of class and put on a bus early one morning. They are taken out of the city. Matt says to Elianna, “I think this might be illegal. Mom never signed a permission slip for me to do this.”

“I KNOW it’s illegal. I don’t even know where we’re going and I can’t imagine what ‘educational experience’ this is supposed to be…” Elianna begins.

Then the teacher who took over their Bible Study stands up in the front of the bus and says, “We’re just taking you to a camp outside of the city. We’ll be meeting with some people who can help you broaden your view of the world. Oh, and all of your parents signed the permission slip the first day of school – when they signed the gray discipline cards…”

Matt and Elianna look at each other, then at their friends, as the bus keeps going and going and going and the sun goes down. Hours later, in the middle of the night, they pull up to a barbed wire/ten-foot-tall cyclone fence. The sign outside the guard box reads as it does above. The teacher says, “I’ll be taking your Bibles now…”

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