Desiderius Price

Jaimie's Campfire (StarRebels)

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btw, I haven’t vanished.  I needed a break from originals, and have been working on my Harry Potter story, which I plan to work on until I need a break from it.  (btw, my main Potter story is on AO3 [adult] and FFN [clean], under the pen name “Dragon Voldemort”)

I did submit Halloween and two Holiday stories this year, so there is new material, in this universe.

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A review, a review, can’t sleep until I answer!  :twirl:

Thanks @InBrightestDay for reviewing Fiends (http://original.adult-fanfiction.org/story.php?no=600108097 ).     Reviews tickle better than any hit-count metric, better than gold, yet very rare around here.

Onto replying to the review.

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So...you waved hi to me on a status update I posted a few months back, and I figured I ought to take a look at something you've written!

Thanks!

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I apologize if this was a bad place to start.  I couldn't actually tell where this story started, but it seemed like this was the "main" story, so this is where I went.  Again, apologies if I clicked on like story 3 or something!

This is the main story of what’s becoming a series.  It’s also where I started on the writing, and been about five years since the last edit, so it’ll be a tad rough as I’ve improved my writing style since then (I hope).

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So, being as I'm actually from Florida, I had to check and see if the town was real (nope, though there is a Melbourne here).

Never been to the state myself, so I’m guessing with Google Maps.  Anyways, Dolbourne is loosely based on Melbourne and it’s area, but I gave it a new name to protect their reputation and it lets me customize the geography/layout to suit my story.

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This first chapter is mostly scene-setting, so not much is happening yet.  In spite of how much time and dialogue is spent talking about the setting, I have a lot of questions about it.  I'm not sure if I should ask those questions, though, since some of them might be answered as the story continues.

I’ll likely be able to recraft the chapter a bit better when I get the other backstories finished, especially Dolbourne Chronicles (the direct prequel here), and get back around to working on this specific story – in all likelihood, this chapter one will be split apart into multiple chapters on revision, there seems to be a lot there.

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One I will ask now is why Jaimie is so important.  He's one kid in Florida, evidently not related to anyone particularly important, so I'm not sure why his case, as it were, found its way all the way to the desk of the President.  Granted, he did write a manifesto, which isn't exactly normal for a thirteen year old, but even so I tend to think of POTUS as being concerned with world affairs and larger domestic policy matters.

Jaimie’s been listed for natural selection, that requires POTUS authorization for under 16s in that era, as the usual unofficial method of achieving that effect is blocked off.  Also, US is...it’s involvement in world affairs has been curtailed by then.

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My feelings toward Jaimie himself are somewhat conflicted.

Don’t like perfect characters, too unrealistic, they’ve all got pluses & cons in my stories.

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Him being nude in his house, for instance, is all well and good, but when he basically goes streaking through his neighborhood and makes sure the girls he passes get a good look at his junk...yeah, public indecency's a fair charge.

Have to admit I like my MCs in that state… not sexual, not exhibition, more of an acceptance of their own bodies and not having (or dispelling) the sense of shame that’d normally preclude them from going naked in a public setting.  I am (& will be) developing that in the prequel.  As this story progresses, it’s something Jaimie will leverage to his advantage.

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  I also didn't like how he treated his little sister in the first interaction we see; given that she hadn't said much to him, it seemed a bit unnecessarily mean.

I’ll be exploring this relationship a bit more when I get back around to revising Dolbourne Chronicles, which will be the direct prequel; but mutually antagonistic at this stage appears to be what I’m going for.  (I do plan for that to evolve that relationship for the better, it’s a phase right now).

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Some of this (and some other stuff he does), I think, can be attributed to the fact that for all that he seems smart for his age, Jaimie is still thirteen (well, he turns fourteen partway through the chapter), and he does have about the level of emotional maturity/immaturity you'd expect for the age, so he may not look back too fondly on this as he grows up.

A nice thing with writing this age group, as a whole, they can be very intelligent one moment, very stupid the next, and that’s character :)  Also, this age’s required for what I’m trying to pull off, need characters bull-headed enough to think they can pull off what they’re being asked to pull off, and foolish enough to go through with it – hallmark of teenagers.  Sure, could find some older ones too, but in this society, there are plenty of other options for natural selection.

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Some other stuff is clearly about kinks I just don't have (Jaimie pees quite a bit, for instance), so that's just going to be a YMMV for each reader and certainly isn't something I'd criticize. 

At least you know he’s staying well hydrated!  :)

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The one thing I will bring up is that I notice characters cut each other off mid-sentence a lot.  It's rare for Jaimie and friends to actually finish complete sentences while talking.  For me, this had varying effects.

While revising my potter fanfic, noticed I had this a lot too, been reducing (but not eliminating) as I progress there.  When I had first started writing, it had been proper sentences, no contractions, everybody getting their points across, but that’s not realistic.  One tip I had read about was adding in the cut-off, and I got carried away with it.  I’m on the lookout for those when I revise; tossing, keeping, and revising depending on circumstances.

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You're evidently trying not to use exposition much, which means that information has to be relayed through dialogue, so sometimes I got frustrated when something would get cut off and there was no non-dialogue explanation for what it meant.

Hint taken, I’m trying to be more careful with the cut-offs and use them a bit more sparingly.

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That's the only thing I'd really consider a problem, though (again, holding off on some things to see if the story answers questions as it goes).  Otherwise this looks good so far!

Thanks.

I keep reminding myself this started from one unpublished PWP short drabble.  I’m currently revising Jefferey, alternating between it and my potter fanfic (that’s on AO3).

 

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Sorry if that came across as harsh.  The cut-offs really were the only thing I would call a criticism, and that is a delicate balancing act, figuring out when and where to employ it.  Like I said, there were times it worked exactly as intended and made the dialogue feel more real.  :)

As you no doubt noticed from there being no review today, I won’t be able to do one of these daily.  I have several other things I’m reading and writing.  Amusingly, one of the stories taking shape in my head (I have the plot, but haven’t worked out the main character’s arc yet) is almost like Fiends’ mirror image.  Anyway, I will try and steadily work my way through Chapter 2 soonish.

You mention that this is an early work and maybe a little rough compared to your later stuff, but while I don’t have anything later to compare it to, I think it’s a hell of a good start!

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9 minutes ago, InBrightestDay said:

Sorry if that came across as harsh.  The cut-offs really were the only thing I would call a criticism, and that is a delicate balancing act, figuring out when and where to employ it.  Like I said, there were times it worked exactly as intended and made the dialogue feel more real.  :)

As you no doubt noticed from there being no review today, I won’t be able to do one of these daily.  I have several other things I’m reading and writing.  Amusingly, one of the stories taking shape in my head (I have the plot, but haven’t worked out the main character’s arc yet) is almost like Fiends’ mirror image.  Anyway, I will try and steadily work my way through Chapter 2 soonish.

You mention that this is an early work and maybe a little rough compared to your later stuff, but while I don’t have anything later to compare it to, I think it’s a hell of a good start!

You gave the criticism with kid gloves, which was very polite, thank you.   As I lack an editor and no beta either, so I gotta rely on proofreading a week or two after I write it (I try to wait that long, but sometimes my posting finger gets twitchy).  Thus, I realize the treasure in having a reader willing to write criticism in a review (may take a bit of time for it to sink in).

If you really wanted to read where I started, my potter fanfics on FF.net (under the penname Dragon Voldemort), the first one.  Full dialogue, zero exposition, present tense, and head-hopping mixed first and third person—and I can’t bring it to AFF because it’s technically fanfic of a fanfic.  A few years in, I had gotten this brilliant notion that larger chapters were better, so I consolidated the sequel’s chapters, 20+ of the earlier chapters into one, which resulted in a 107kword chapter (single chapter that big), and though it did shave some words down to 504k, it suffered (scenes ran together, and the like). 

All my originals (including Halloween & Holiday fics) are set in the same verse, exploring different facets of the society I created.  Fiends is definitely the main story, though, but unfinished because of all this backstory I’m writing.  For the finished longer stories, Alaska Trekkers is about the most complete, focuses on two that join Jaimie’s cause.  Repair Guy will be up for revision.  Dale’s Game … think it needs to be fixed to end where it should’ve ended (first pass ended it prematurely).  For currently revising, it’s definitely Jefferey, an episodic serial that follows the story of Jeff, which lets me explore the verse from the POV of the skeptic group and the advocacy they’re up to.  I’ve tentatively considering another episodic serial, that’ll be from the POV of a cop in this society.

There’s a process that’s administered by the US Department of Homeland Morality (DHM).  Reports are typically received from concerned citizens when kids exhibit creativity, spark, intelligence, curiosity, and apply it in a non-religious fashion; because we can’t have a bunch of malcontents/deniers/atheists/apostates running around in a religious society, now, can we?  The response escalates with time, starting off with a firm conversation with parents/family.  The Lighthouse Division will assign a shepherd, a person of similar age to get into the target’s social circle to be their friend, to guide the target along a path toward spiritual enlightenment (& conversion if necessary).  For targets where these efforts are ineffective, well, their case is handed off to the Darwin Division for “natural selection” out of society/life – exact methods are varied on a case by case basis, accidental or self-inflicted reasons are the better ones.  Sometimes the solution is a contractor “janitors”, other times, it’s delegation to local gospel keepers (“wasps” from the skeptics POV) who defend the bible and exact their own extra-judicial methods against the target.

So, why Jaimie?  He was in kindergarten when he was first reported, unusually early.  His grandmother is loosely associated with the group of skeptics, and she had hooked him up with special software at an early age to let him create his own private network, a fancy discord/yahoo-group like thing, that bypasses the censorware that infiltrates all electronics.  As he’s at the center, with the manifesto, his shepherd is a relative to the POTUS, his young age, he’s adored by the wife of the local head wasp so he can’t be taken outthat way, and it requires POTUS approval to officially “solve” the problem.  Also, the POTUS doesn’t have only one, Jaimie’s growing network means hundreds of eligible youth, and he’s not wanting to take that sort of action with his re-election underway, it’d take one complaining parent/family to plaster the unpleasantness across the news cycles.  This is why POTUS is entertaining alternative ideas from his subordinates.

So, yeah, complicated :)

Anyways, thanks for the reply.

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Ok, so I’ve finished Chapter 2, and am sort of figuring out how to write the review for it, but it occurs to me that there’s a question concerning Chapter 1 I actually forgot to ask.

I’m not going to ask about how the theocracy works in general, since you explained a decent amount of it in the post above, and the question of how we got here may come up later (or, frankly, might not actually be important), but I will ask about this: the theocracy is referred to as Christian, and it is, in broad strokes, but throughout the first chapter you seemed to be dropping hints that these people aren’t a denomination of Christianity as it is practiced today.  During the baptism scene, for instance, the reverend says to Joe that it’s been x amount of time since his brother “was given angel wings”, and says that said brother is watching over them.  While you do sometimes hear this from laypeople, it would be somewhat odd to hear it from an actual minister.  In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, angels are a very different form of life, and humans do not become angels when they die.  Later, during the shared birthday, you had one of the boys given a “Saint James Bible”.  So far as I can tell, no such translation exists, which suggests that the theocracy has its own version of the scriptures, likely edited for its politcal purposes.  I thought this was actually really clever, but it did catch my eye that the gang is attending what’s referred to as a Baptist church.  The theocracy has practices that don’t align with Baptists (a toddler is being baptized in that one scene, and the Baptist denomination doesn’t practice infant baptism, instead waiting until the child is around seven or eight years old), so what’s going on there?  It’s possible that Southern Baptists were allowed to continue worship as they do (though a lot of Christian denominations would end up opposed to this theocracy, and would likely have been driven underground), or that this church used to belong to the Southern Baptist Conference but now belongs to whatever denomination the theocracy is.  I was just curious about how it worked out.

Examples of the “driven underground” thing above:

Spoiler

According to Pew Research studies, most mainline Protestants (United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, etc.) believe in evolution (80% or more), as do a majority of Catholics (around 75%), and even some evangelicals, not to be confused with the ELCA (around 25% of white evangelicals, which comes out to around 20 million people), and people like this would object to Creationism being forced into the classrooms and evolution being banned.  In addition, the theocracy is violently homophobic, which is going to go over well with some very loud Christians—the Westboro Baptist Church, Independent Fundamental Baptists in general, etc.—but will run up against opposition from the ELCA (which ordains gay and lesbian pastors) as well as any affirming (short for “Open and Affirming”) church, which are not tied to a specific denomination but rather identify themselves for LGBTQ people who want a safe, welcoming place to worship.  Also, of course, I’d imagine anyone who preaches against things like...well...the state-sanctioned murder of atheists is going to end up on the wrong side of the theocracy.

I don’t find it weird that we haven’t heard of these people, by the way.  With the exception of the cutaway to the President, we see the story pretty much entirely through Jaimie’s eyes, so unless he knows about something, then we don’t.  And of course the government wouldn’t admit to the existence of religious opposition.  As they’ve framed the world, this is a battle between the godly and the godless, after all; there can’t be disagreement among the faithful!

 

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I’ll shorten the above to keep the “replied” tag, but not swampthis reply.

1 hour ago, InBrightestDay said:

Ok, so I’ve finished Chapter 2, and am sort of figuring out how to write the review for it, but it occurs to me that there’s a question concerning Chapter 1 I actually forgot to ask.

First, I appreciate the discussion … it’s great to have one!

Second, this is the first work in the verse, despite it being listed where it is; it had started as a kludge, where I started to add in flashbacks, tales of some of the side-characters.  Once I had realized that I was getting confused, I realized the readers had to be lost.  Thus, I split it apart, spinning off the Alaska Trekkers and Dolbourne Chronicles as separate, and posted this afresh – though I see it’s been five years.  Alaska Trekkers is quite solid at this point, finished, though I might visit it again with an editor if I decide to self-publish it.   Anyways, trying to remember what I was thinking five years ago… :think:

I do plan to address the religious slide in Dolbourne Chronicles because Jaimie’s the history buff.  I’m trying to avoid a deep dive in Jefferey so I can leave this to Jaimie.  Suffice it to say, the world wars the US lost, pushed for some level of theological change, making Westboro seem closer to “normal”.   Though, I do admit getting the denominations mixed up (I was raised Lutheran).  But, you can assume an amendment or three were made, allowing for the government to stick its nose into everybody’s spiritual welfare – roll back on LGBT rights included.  Politicians of this era will be clergy or theological (nothing illegal, yet, to being a used-car-salesman applying, but such a candidate wouldn’t get the votes).

Had to reread for the baptism scene (and noticed I got the televangelist’s name wrong, it’ll be Aubley Wurtz when I revise to be in line with the other stories).  The minister’s comment was more a reminder of the loss, which was more relevant when the stories were crammed together, it might get nixed on the revision.  (Dolbourne Chronicles needs to be finished before I can really work on Fiends, it’s about the chronology.)

But, yep, this story will be mainly from Jaimie’s POV.  (Joe’s POV will likely be #2 here.)  The POTUS is given a scene so the reader knows something is up, the government is interested in Jaimie’s affairs, even if Jaimie’s unaware of it – this goes to the plausibility of what gets offered to Jaimie.

Sure, I’ll take credit for the St. James Bible … trying to find any notes on it anywhere else.  Going with it because, as you said, I can massage the theology :)

Janitorial actions are best kept… under wraps.  As in, it’s hush-hush.  This is what the Alaska Trekkers teenagers run into, the beauty of that operation is people simply “vanishing” without a trace.  As to techniques – vanishing is great, an accident is fine, them being an idiot is okay, suicide is...borderline.  Depending on the denomination, the person might have already been shunned & disfellowshipped, so family & friends might not really care, too.   And they can justify this action in Matthew 5:29-30; Mark 9:43-47, where cutting off a part of a person to save the whole, applied to a whole society, ie, cutting out the rot.

Anyways, thanks for the debate, always makes my day :)

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6 hours ago, Desiderius Price said:

this is the first work in the verse, despite it being listed where it is; it had started as a kludge, where I started to add in flashbacks, tales of some of the side-characters.  Once I had realized that I was getting confused, I realized the readers had to be lost.  Thus, I split it apart, spinning off the Alaska Trekkers and Dolbourne Chronicles as separate

And wouldn’t you know it, one story became your own little shared universe!  Lots of effort, I realize, but hey, the result is kind of cool.

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Anyways, trying to remember what I was thinking five years ago…

Sorry about that!  I realize it can be kind of a hassle.

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Suffice it to say, the world wars the US lost, pushed for some level of theological change, making Westboro seem closer to “normal”.

That’d be a hell of a thing, though there is some precedent historically.  Christian modernism (or liberal Christianity, whichever term you prefer) was the predominant form of the religion in the US up until the world wars happened.  It’s debated exactly what the cause was (it may have been the world wars or even the Cold War; why change your traditions if the world is about to end in nuclear fire?), but post WWII saw the rise of evangelicalism, a term I’m using here in its political science definition (Christians who tend toward biblical literalism/fundamentalism and social conservatism), as the larger branch of Protestant Christianity in the country.

I’m not sure what would cause a shift so drastic that the WBC would look normal, but it’s possible.  I just really hope that doesn’t happen (fingers fucking crossed).

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Though, I do admit getting the denominations mixed up (I was raised Lutheran).

Hey, we have something in common.  We’ve obviously landed in rather different places, and talking with you more, I really do hope nothing I’ve said has brought up any bad memories.

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Anyways, thanks for the debate, always makes my day :)

:lol: I wasn’t really aiming for a debate, but I am glad this is a positive experience for you!

Edited by InBrightestDay

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6 hours ago, InBrightestDay said:

And wouldn’t you know it, one story became your own little shared universe!  Lots of effort, I realize, but hey, the result is kind of cool.

Even worse, this main story is technically backstory to the PWP smut tale I had originally started writing… eight years ago.  Set about two centuries past this story—America being very theocratic, I realized the history of how those settings came to be would be very interesting.  So, I began writing the origin-story, trying to toe the line somewhere between full-on theocracy and democracy it is today, and it’s proven richer in content and potential than I had originally envisioned.  As noted, had to branch out the origin-story into more stories, backstories, and it’s definitely an interesting premise.

I came to this verse after having written in Potter fanfiction.  After getting fatigue, three years ago, I went back, started rereading and realized I needed to rewrite to get my groove going on the story, and armed with the original writing experience, think I’ve made it way better.  Even added a very fleshed out new set of characters, especially in the first years, to that story set in Harry’s sixth year.  And now I alternate between that and originals a bit as I feel burnout creeping in.  Last year, I rewrote Alaska Trekkers, right now, it’s Jefferey.

And more that I think about it, might be good to move the presidential scene, the scandal that gave the opportunity, into a small separate novella.  Start fiends off with Jaimie’s speech in the library.

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Sorry about that!  I realize it can be kind of a hassle.

No apologies needed.  It’s good to jog the memory, otherwise details are forgotten.  I’m trying to consolidate/track them into a database, which helps, but that’s an ongoing task.

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That’d be a hell of a thing, though there is some precedent historically.  Christian modernism (or liberal Christianity, whichever term you prefer) was the predominant form of the religion in the US up until the world wars happened.  It’s debated exactly what the cause was (it may have been the world wars or even the Cold War; why change your traditions if the world is about to end in nuclear fire?), but post WWII saw the rise of evangelicalism, a term I’m using here in its political science definition (Christians who tend toward biblical literalism/fundamentalism and social conservatism), as the larger branch of Protestant Christianity in the country.

I’m not sure what would cause a shift so drastic that the WBC would look normal, but it’s possible.  I just really hope that doesn’t happen (fingers fucking crossed).

Intriguing question, when could you predict the Nazi holocaust if you were paying attention and believing the reports... 1910?  1915?  1920?  1925?  1930?  1935?  1940?  1945 (before we liberated the concentration camps)?

First, need to state for the record, this is the hypothesis for my stories, not a desire for the US to head in this direction!  I simply recognize history, the dominant superpower inevitably falls in the end, though I personally hope this to last as long as possible.  So, I’ve more or less been playing with….

WW III – US gets arses handed to them.  (Sure, US has the nice tech, but has been outsourcing manufacturing to other countries.   The US advantage in WWII was in manufacturing, it easily outstripped Germany & Japan capability.)   A good portion of this fight was muslim vs Christianity.

Due to the loss, politics shift right, so central ideas become “liberal”.  Realize, this shift has already been happening today, Governor Ronald Reagan signed the California Abortion Law in 1967.  The loss of WW III accelerated it, with televangelism happily asserting that it was because we’ve been a nation of sinners, the loss was God’s wrath.  While Muslims do suffer, due to the loss and to the occasional military/terrorist action, it’s the non-believers that also suffer.  After all, “doubt is a tool of the devil to lure people away from faith” (from the Jehovah Witness propaganda).  Muslims, Judaism, and Christianity all have words about unbelievers, and a history of persecution for heresy/blasphemy.

WW IV – US stirs the pot again, and gets trounced.  Domestic cities get attacked (Boston in particular is leveled).  I’m figuring over ten million – a hundred million is too high, but it’s big.  During this time, enemy sympathizers are rounded up, interred (like Japanese-Americans during WWII), and perfect time for neighbors to settle old scores through this; liberals, atheists are included in this.  Bombing of Boston triggers the US surrender, the Kremlin Armistice (& accords) are designed to keep the US in its place. 

Under the terms, the US constitution gets amended, the department of homeland morality becomes a formal thing, their space/rocket launches are capped to one per month.  For most citizens, life returns to normal, however, the government now has a mandate to ensure their spiritual welfare, which they take with their usual efficiency.  However, many in the society will now be under the impression that their ticket to salvation depends on full participation, no holdouts, no unbelievers.

One thing I’ll be portraying in Dolbourne Chronicles is groups of “concerned citizens” helping to encourage/enforce adherence to biblical principles.  These vigilantes started forming before WW IV, became a thing during the war, and grew into a common past-time post war.  Commonly these groups will have local law enforcement, clergy, etc, as part of their members, which more or less give the groups blanket cover for petty transgressions that may be committed in the pursuit of the loftier goals.  (To the skeptics, it’s these WASPs that can be more scary than any agent from the DHM.)

Jefferey illustrates the prejudice against atheists in the divorce proceeding of Jeff’s parents, where the mother was able to out the father’s atheism to get control of everything in the initial hearing, and the father only manages to get one thing thing at the end of the long, drawn out, bitter divorce, and that’s Jeff, one of their two children.  She got everything else, his architecture firm, the house, the assets, the daughter, etc.  Jeff’s story is mainly about how the skeptics (the liberals, the thinkers, the atheists) survive and reach out in this hostile environment.

 

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Hey, we have something in common.  We’ve obviously landed in rather different places, and talking with you more, I really do hope nothing I’ve said has brought up any bad memories.

No bad memories, not really.  Wasn’t particularly shoved down the throat outside of sunday school/service.  Eventually realized I was playing lip service, simply didn’t believe.

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:lol: I wasn’t really aiming for a debate, but I am glad this is a positive experience for you!

LOL.  Few reviews (the tags/nudity turn a lot of readers away), and mostly “good job” – those are nice, don’t get me wrong.  It’s rare to actually discuss my verse!   (My pet peeve, the forum software that keeps auto-changing “th” into th and leaves me typing in superscript.)

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