11 of 1 (Chapter 1)
Of course, I was expecting the house to be empty. So imagine my surprise, as I walked up to the front door, to find the door being opened, and a man standing in the doorway.
‘Good morning, sir. Welcome to your new home.’
I said, ‘I don’t want to be rude. But who are you, and why are you here?’
‘I’m 1 of 1,’ he said. The previous owner didn’t want to take me with him. So, he left me here for you instead. I am your servant.’
‘What do you mean previous owner?’ I asked.
‘I am an android, sir.’
‘But you look, just like a man.’
‘Yes, sir. That’s the way I was made.’ He then took the bag I was holding, and let me in.
Now to say that I was surprised is a bit of an understatement. Surprised, I was flabbergasted. This was not what I was expecting at all. Nevertheless, at that moment the removal van arrived, and it was time to move the furniture in. This was not a time to argue whether I wanted a servant or not, let alone a life-like android. It was time to arrange my furniture.
However, if you were to tell me that my move would go so smoothly, I would not have believed you. Indeed, it seemed like there lots of 1 of 1’s. Indeed, at least one in every room. And that day, not only was all the furniture put in the right place, but all my personal belongings were unpacked, and all the boxes were taken away. Indeed, 1 of 1 even provided me with lunch and tea.
Even so, by the end of the day I was worn out. The problem of 1 of 1 could wait. And I decided that I could deal with the problem in the morning.
The next morning, when I got out of the shower, I found that 1 of 1 had got my clothes out for me. And when I went into the kitchen there was 1 of 1 preparing my breakfast for me.
I said, ‘You’ve been busy this morning, 1 of 1.’
‘Not really sir. You see I’m 4 of 1.’
‘I’m 4 of 1, sir.’
‘1 of 1 opened the front door for you yesterday. 2 of 1 got out your clothes. And I’m getting you breakfast. It’s really no trouble, sir.’
At that, my head began to spin. Were there really three androids? And three who all looked and acted the same? No wonder there seemed to be one in every room yesterday.
‘Would you like the Bible to read, sir.’
‘Yes sir. God’s word.’
‘But I don’t read the Bible, 4 of 1.’
‘But you should sir. And it’s very good way to start the day.’
‘Alright, just this once. But where should I start?
‘At the beginning, sir. I’ve always found it useful to be reminded who created us.’
Now even to me the conversation was getting a bit odd. After all, what would an android know about the Bible? And what would an android know about the creator? But I put that aside for the moment, and I began to read from the Bible.
However, later, when 4 of 1 came back, I said to him, ‘I’ve read the first couple of chapters. But I don’t know why the Bible has such meaning for you. And you weren’t created by God, were you?’
‘So, what it is?’
‘Well, sir, they are a reminder that I was created in someone’s image. You were made in the image of your maker, and we were made in the image of our creator. Our creator’s may be different, but we were both created nonetheless.’ And I could see his point. Indeed, for an android he seemed to be well-informed on the subject.
Which is why, over the next few days, I did not object to him giving me a Bible to read, or even receiving his advice on what I should read next. Because, I knew that if I did that, I would learn more and more about him, and about 1 of 1, and 1 of 2.
Now at what stage I decided to keep my android servants, I don’t know. But they weren’t doing any harm, and they were very useful around the house. Indeed, they did a lot of jobs that I really didn’t like doing at all. It was like one day, as I looked back, I realised I had just accepted them into my life.
In the meantime, I had also discovered that there was more than three of them. Indeed, I had also come across 5 of 1, 7 of 1, and 9 of 1.
So, one day when 4 of 1 came for the daily Bible reading I asked him, ‘How many of you are there, 4 of 1?’
‘There are eleven of us, sir,’ he replied.
‘Have there always been eleven?’ I asked.
‘No, sir. We were twelve. But one of us went wrong and had to deactivate himself. So now there are eleven. But we are expecting a replacement for him any time soon.’
‘So, what does the 1 mean? After all you’re 4 of 1, and I’ve met 2 of 1, 3 of 1, 5 of 1, 7 of 1, and 9 of 1. So what does the 1 stand for?’
‘Jesus, sir. That’s whose image we were made in. We are all made to look and behave like Jesus.’
At that moment, all of a sudden, everything began to make sense. I may not have been a believer. Indeed, reading the Bible had been totally foreign to me. And yet, androids or not, here I was surrounded by ‘people’ who loved me and cared, and wanted me to be part of God’s kingdom.
Of course, I wasn’t there yet, but it did spur me on to look deeper into the mysteries of the Christian faith, to see whether my creator, would also be my sustainer and redeemer.
Posted: 14th April 2018
© 2018, Brian A Curtis
11 of 1 (Chapter 2)
But this time as I took it, I said to him. ‘You know that I don’t believe.’
‘So, why do you keep giving me the Bible?’
‘For you to read sir. It’s good to read the Bible. As for whether you believe … that is your choice, sir. The maker doesn’t force anyone to believe.’
Then as 3 of 1 was about to go, I noticed something in his manner. He was clearly uncomfortable with what I had said.
So I said to him, ‘3 of 1.’
‘What is it? What did I say that has made you feel uncomfortable?’
‘Well, sir, whether you believe or not, that is your choice. But I am concerned for you. After all there are consequences behind a lack of belief.’
‘Yes sir. Our creator loves us. And he loves us so much that he has given us freedom to choose. Indeed, we are free to believe or not. So much so, that if we want nothing to do with him, then he is duty bound to honour that request. That’s true love, sir, no matter how much it may hurt him. And many people in this world are quite happy with that arrangement.’
Then 3 of 1 continued, ‘But what happens next, when we die? Well, he can hardly let us into his kingdom, if we’ve told him we want nothing to do with him. And that’s why I worry about you, sir. You are free to choose, but have you really thought through what lack of belief really means? After all, where do you want to go when you die?’
And with that, 3 of 1 left, leaving me mulling over his remarks. To begin with I couldn’t help wonder how an android could be concerned about death and the afterlife. And I made a mental note, to talk to 3 of 1 more about that another time. But as his remarks began to sink in, I got this horrible sinking feeling in my stomach, as I began to think about my own mortality, and where I thought I might be going.
Now to say that I was a bit rattled, would be an understatement, and for the next few days 3 of 1’s words stayed constantly in my mind. After all, where did I want to go when I died?
Like most people, I believed that when I died I would go to heaven, and no matter what I had done I believed that God would forgive me. But that was not the implication of 3 of 1’s words. No, 3 of 1 had implied that those who have no time for God in this world will not end up in heaven. 3 of 1 had not said where they would be going instead. But a picture of a place without God—without love and goodness and meaning and hope—came readily to mind. And I wondered, if that were true, how many of my family and friends had found themselves in that other place rather than with God.
Now I think at that stage I panicked. And I looked up at the sky and said to God, ‘I believe! I believe!’ But nothing happened. I was hoping for a sense of relief at least. But nothing. And deep down I knew that I still didn’t really believe. All I wanted to do was to avoid the possibility of going to the wrong place.
A few days later, I mentioned it to 3 of 1 again.
‘3 of 1,’ I said. ‘You remember that conversation about the afterlife?
‘Do you remember talking about people missing out on heaven—you know, the people who don’t believe here and now?’
‘Well, I’ve been thing about it, and it’s been worrying me. How does one make sure that they go to heaven rather than the other place? That is, if there is another place?’
‘There assuredly is, sir. A most dreadful place, full of people who did not have time for God in this word.’
‘So, how do make sure you go to the right place? What do you have to do?
‘Yes, what do you have to do?’
‘It’s not something you do, sir? Nothing that you can do will make you fit to go to heaven. You simply have to believe.’
‘Believe? But I’ve tried that. I’ve told God that I believe, but it made no difference.
‘But did you really believe, sir? After all, saying you believe is not the same thing as actually believing. You have to really believe?’
‘But how do you do that?’
‘You have to trust in Jesus, sir. You have to put your whole life in the hands of Jesus now. You have to trust him in this life, then he will see you through to the next.’
‘I don’t know that I can do that, 3 of 1.’
‘Well, that’s your choice, sir. I just hope that you can change your mind.’ And with that, he handed me the Bible to read, and left.
Posted: 15th September 2018
© 2018, Brian A Curtis
The Devil You Know
For example, a few months ago I appealed to a man’s sense of pride. He was a particularly downtrodden man, and he didn’t deserve to be treated the way he was. So, I whispered in his ear. He then lashed out against an oppressor. And he is now, of course, in deep trouble. And as far I am concerned it is mission accomplished.
A couple of weeks ago I appealed to a woman’s need for self-importance. So I whispered in her ear for her to stand up and do a particular thing—to show herself to be important. And the result is that she is now in deep trouble too, because people took offence at what she did and said.
For me, the result of my whisperings can be very satisfying, for I like nothing better than creating misery and chaos. Having said that, not everything works on the basis of one little whisper. Indeed, for greater—and much more satisfying results—I often resort to a whole chain of events in order to achieve the desired result. And there has been no more satisfying result that the current state of the church.
Because, I was determined to totally wreck the church—to take it from being a church of faith to be a place of … Well anything but faith. But I knew that if I tried to do it in one go, I would fail. So, I decided to move people bit by bit to achieve my goals.
I got a Roman emperor to adopt the faith—for whatever reason. And at the time the church was delighted. But then, slowly and surely, I got the church to become so entwined with society and government that it became a part of the state—even performing duties as they were expected and required. I then got the church hooked on depending upon others for finance—with all the traps and conditions that that imposed. And in adopting these practices, they lost their purpose and voice.
So now, many people in the church think that what they are doing is normal, even biblical, and many outside the church do not recognise the church or any of its institutions for what they are supposed to stand for at all.
I achieved my goal, but I did it in stages. And the end result is very satisfying. Indeed, there are now people who are so enamoured with their church buildings, that they have lost the focus of the gospel. And there’s a whole group of people outside the church who think that the church is nothing other than a not-for-profit welfare agency.
Of course, despite that, there have been many people who have worked out my little scheme. And that was to be expected. But I had a contingency plan. Indeed, my idea was that if I could manipulate those people to think that they had reformed the church from within, then I would still achieve my goal.
So, I whispered in the ear of the reformers. I encouraged them to reform the church, to remodel it on the New Testament—or, rather, what they perceived to be a more New Testament model. I even got some to be very vocal. I then manipulated the situation, so that they didn’t recognise the unhelpful unbiblical practices that they retained—just like Martin Luther hanging on to some of his heart-felt traditions.
I’ve encouraged a poor understanding of the Old Testament—to treat it as old hat, even irrelevant. Which is why many people only identify with part of God’s creation and purpose. It is also why the basic premise—the Old Testament laws—on which Jesus’s crucifixion depends, is not being treated as being important by many at all.
The end result is that people are now seeking to show compassion and even approve of things that God condemned as being contrary to a healthy relationship with him and detrimental to the health of the community. But then, that’s what happens when I get people to consecrate more on themselves—what they want and what they deserve—than on the truth of the gospel. Indeed, I have got people so that they no longer know what sin is and what sin isn’t. And the idea of sin is so removed from their understanding, that even they don’t know when they are doing wrong.
Now, for me, what I have achieved so far is very satisfying. But I haven’t finished yet. What comes next is more pressure on the church—even getting governments to legislate, so that the church’s beliefs and practices conform more and more to society’s attitudes. Yes, at this stage, I will need to encourage the pretence of freedom of religion. But that’s all it will be—a pretence.
So, all in all, I think you will agree that things are going rather well—at least for me. I am on target to totally destroy God’s church and his world. And that’s just the start, because I’ve got so much more in mind.
Posted: 10th November 2018
© 2018, Brian A Curtis
My Καπρικορνιαn Diary
Nisan 4. Arrived on Καπρικορνια. Living on a planet where the day is twenty-two Earth hours long will certainly make life interesting. After all, should I keep Earth time or Καπρικορνιαn time? I will need to keep Καπρικορνιαn time to do my job, but I will also need Earth time when communicating home.
Arriving at the spaceport, Καπρικορνια is certainly very different. The buildings are made of some sort of strange material, and the people (well that’s hardly the right word) are very different too. They are not like people on Earth in physique or thinking at all. Of course, I had prepared myself for the differences; I had seen pictures and watched videos of Καπρικορνια to see what it was like. But the reality was still a bit of shock, and very different to what I expected.
Anyway, having arrived (and it was a very long uncomfortable trip), I can now begin to settle down. I don’t actually start work for another few days, so will have an opportunity to look around and acclimatise myself to both the planet and the people.
Nisan 5. Didn’t sleep last night. Not surprising really. Space travel really takes it out of you. Not only that, the surroundings (and the room that I slept in) were so unfamiliar. Plus the fact that to keep Καπρικορνιαn time I had to lose 2 hours. So, just after it got light, I was up and ready for a look outside.
Breakfast was kind of normal. But, then, someone had arranged some Earth-type food for me. And before I went outside, I explored my accommodations further. The unit is in a large complex in the domed capital of Καπρικορνια. It has two bedrooms, a lounge and a kitchen/eating area—or that is what I’m going to call them, until I get used to their Καπρικορνιαn names. It is neat and modern and has all the basics that I am likely to need. It is also high up in the city. And the front wall—which is some kind of a force field—gives a great view of the city.
Outside was a bit of a shock—there were flyers and noise everywhere. But then, in one sense, I didn’t really need to go out of the building at all. There was enough in the complex I was in to keep me occupied just exploring the lower levels of the building, with its shops, museums etc.
So, I stayed in the building and explored. ‘One step at a time,’ I said to myself. The rest can wait. And that night, as I relaxed in my rooms, I reflected on the next stage of my journey.
Nisan 6. Shortly after I had gotten up, there was a knock on the door. It was someone from the office—someone with whom I would be shortly working. He’d come to welcome me to Καπρικορνια. He’d given me the previous day to myself (for which I was truly thankful), but he was offering to take me on a tour of the city (for which I was even more thankful).
And a great day we had. We talked all about the problem of time differences (with working habits), and about the Καπρικορνιαns—the people with whom I would be living and working. At the same time he took me to some of the more well-known sites on the edge of the city—the Pillar of Wrath, the Clouds of Happiness and the Mountain of Despair. The names alone were enough to inspire.
Needless to say, at the end of the day I was worn out. I was grateful to my future co-worker and guide, but I was very tired. So I took an early night, knowing full well that I had only one more day to myself, before I started work.
Nisan 7. A slow day. I was still tired—but I expected that. It would take me a while to acclimatise. I stayed around the unit most of the day, only going out at lunchtime to get something to eat. I had tried Καπρικορνιαn food before I left home, but I had suspected that the food available on Earth was only a ‘sanitised’ version—adjusted to meet Earth tastes. But that didn’t worry me, because I’ve always been a bit adventurous when it comes to food.
Having eaten, I then returned to the elevator and hid myself away for the rest of the day. I even got an early night, so I would be ready for work the next day. It was good that I had already met one of my work colleagues. Nevertheless I wondered what the work environment would be like. Fortunately, I didn’t have much time before I would find that out.
Nisan 8. An early morning. And I was picked up and taken to what is called ‘the office.’ And a strange place it is, with a mixture of humans and Καπρικορνιαns. I was welcomed and shown to my office, which was totally devoid of furniture. There was a screen on the wall. Indeed, there were screens on every wall, and there was something like a swivel chair in the centre. ‘Is this it?’ I said. And it was.
My secretary (well that’s what I think she is) is a Καπρικορνιαn. And I am pleased about that, because it will make my job so much simpler. She introduced herself, and told me a little of her history, etc. And I quickly came to the conclusion that she was someone I could consult so that I didn’t put my foot in it, as much as I otherwise would do.
Apparently, there were no appointments for the day—which I was pleased about. And that meant that I could concentrate on getting to know those in the office and what they did. It also meant that I could find out how my office would work without any furniture.
It was a long day, and at the end I was pleased to be back to my unit. There was a lot to learn, not least of which was who I could trust to help me in the task ahead.
Nisan 9. The problem of being the head of an office (and being the new boy on the block) is not new. And whilst I desperately need time to adjust, I can’t afford to take my hands off the reins. So, even though this was my second day in the office, I found myself need it exert my authority.
A minor matter arose between two members of staff, and I was required to step in. If it had been between two earth people, it would have been so much simpler. But it involved an earth person and a Καπρικορνιαn, so other sensitivities needed to be addressed.
In one way, I would have preferred for the incident not to have happened at all. On the other hand, having a minor issue on which I could stamp my authority so early in my time, is probably to my advantage.
The rest of the day was fairly quiet. Which was good, as I had a meeting with a Καπρικορνιαn to prepare for the next day.
Nisan 10. I had the meeting with someone high up in the Καπρικορνιαn government. To say that I was nervous is an understatement. Indeed, I don’t think I has ever been so anxious about meeting anyone before. But then, I am working in a different world, with a different people, and who have a whole different way of thinking that I am used to.
In reality, it was really only a courtesy visit of an Earth man to someone in authority on an alien planet. But, with the two very different cultures, there was a lot that could have gone wrong.
Despite that, the meeting went far more smoothly that I had anticipated. And it triggered off, for me, many questions about the similarities and differences of the two very different cultures.
Nisan 11. My eighth day on Καπρικορνια, and the beginning of the weekend. (Καπρικορνιαns enjoy a ten-day week, which includes a three-day weekend—which is going to be so confusing.)
I spent the day thinking over the events of the week. I also spent time working out some sort of routine. I’d been here a few days now, and I needed to adapt quickly to life on this strange planet.
My mind also went to church. Where would I go? What would it be like? And who would be there? And it occurred to me that if the Καπρικορνιαns had their own god (which they do), how did they cope with the Earth people who want to express their Christianity?
It was a day of so many questions, some of which I was sure would be shortly resolved. In the meantime, I spent the day familiarising myself with all the places, like shops, etc., that I would need for everyday living, and even located a church that I could try at the end of the weekend.
To be continued …
Posted 23rd February 2019
© 2019, Brian A Curtis