Articles of Faith

“Preacher Donovan”
by Jack Bristow

Pastor Donovan sits on his couch with his family grimly watching the Channel Four News. Newsman David Monore is doing an expose on his church, The Christ’s Merry Follower’s Congregation on Topika Street.

Each word that comes from the newsman’s mouth pierces Pastor Donovan through the heart like a steel dagger.

“We were first tipped off about allegations of Mr. Tyrone Donovan’s sexual misconduct in September, when a congregant of his church who wishes to remain anonymous first contacted us.”

It cuts to the parishioner’s bleary face and deliberately distorted voice. Though her face cannot be seen clearly, we can
tell she is a young woman of generous proportions.

She starts to speak. And as she does Pastor Donovan’s wife Claire, his teenage boy Robbie, and adult daughter Marcia boo lavishly the blurred form in the television set.

Pastor Donovan, in his fifty-dollar leopard-color pajamas thrusts his finely manicured finger into the air, demanding with this small gesture silence, so all in the room can hear sister Lambert’s outrageously demonic allegations.

“…and that’s when Pastor Donovan started showing me a lot of attention.”

“What kind of attention?” The newswoman asked.

“Well. He told me I needed to work on my love for the congregation. So he invited me over to his home for Bible study. He told me he invites a different congregant over every week,” the monster- sounding voice said. “And when I got there,” even the muffled voice gave way to emotion, “his family wasn’t there. He told me they went shopping. He left and came back out wearing an exotic-looking robe, with two glasses of wine in his hand.”

“She be goin’ to hell,” Claire hisses, shaking her fist at the TV.

“SHHHHHHHH,” the revered patriarch decrees. “I wanna hear what this little hussie-liar has to say.”

“…when he handed me the wine, I explained I was only eighteen, and as a Christian it was my duty to adhere to the laws of the land.  He said ‘Don’t worry ’bout it, baby. Jesus turned the water into wine. So let it make our faces shine!’ We sat near the couch, and he pushed the buttons to a remote control, and on went Barry White’s ‘Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe’. I told him, ‘Pastor, right now I’m feeling very uncomfortable. I want to leave’. He replied, ‘You sound tense. Jus’ calm down baby, and let me handle things….”

“Oh Lord!” Pastor Donovan exclaims after hearing her words. “Forgive her. Forgive her of her lies! We all know it’s Satan doin’ this! He the Father of the Lie!”

“Amen!” The pastor’s family sings in unison.

“Then what happened?” The reporter asks.

“He disrobed.”

The Donovan family gasps.

“And then I said, ‘Pastor. Your wife. Claire. I’m not about to commit adultery and go to Hell!”

The newswoman: “To which he said?”

“Don’t worry, baby. Love covers a multitude of sin.”

“And after that, I slapped it,” she says proudly.

Pastor Donovan cringes.

And at that Pastor Donovan flicks off  the TV abruptly.

“Kids,” he says solemnly. “Go upstairs. Say your prayers for sister Lambert. Ask God to help her find her way. Then call
your friends or somethin’. I would like to speak to your mother privately about this slanderous, deviantly sick individual!”

Marcia and Robbie sprint upstairs.

The facade is now gone.

“Oh Claire!” Pastor Donovan falls submissively to his wife’s knees, begging her to believe him. “I swear! I didn’t do it! I swear to God Almighty! I’m one hundred percent innocent!”

Claire stares down at her husband, blankly.

“Honey.” She says reassuringly, as if his mere implication that she would believe such a bogus accusation deeply offends her. “Of course,  I believe you,” she says, clamping her thumb and fingers on each side of his cheek, making him look like a big, fat middle-aged baby.

Pastor Donovan, clearly relieved by her words says, “Thanks baby. It’s jus’ that…” he explains, “Everyone who once loved me and was my friend is turning against me! The news. They used’ta praise us on Thanksgivin’… how we’d make sure nobody’d go hungry on that blessed day. And the congregation! Lord have mercy on them! This little hussie has brainwashed them all!”

Claire kisses his wrinkled forehead and gets up, saying, “This will all blow over, baby. Don’t worry. You got the most powerful ally on your side. He knows the truth. That you didn’t do it. Why don’t I leave you alone so you can talk to Him? He has never let you down yet, has He?”

“Yeah, yeah! You’re right!” The Pastor shoots his back up, as if his wife’s words sent a massive charge of electricity that shocks his depressed circuits back to life. “Yes, babydoll! Please  leave me alone a minute. I gotta talk to my Heavenly
Father,” he winks.

“I love and trust you,” she says and leaves.

And he passionately drops back down to his knees. “Jesus, please, I implore You,” he says. “I ask of you only two things. One: a miracle. And two: one hell of a really fine lawyer.”

Jack Bristow has written for The New Flesh Magazine and has a new short story, “Our Bus Driver, Fred,” which will be featured in the next issue of CANTARAVILLE magazine.


“A Modest Proposal From A Parallel World”
by William H. Libaw

(Note to the reader: Most blogs that list a version of this narrative say it came from somewhere in our own cosmos.  The variant below is this writer’s editing of a blog that makes a broader claim: The message emanated from a different universe.  Although all such claims may be unlikely, the basic message implicitly suggests it came from a society where the language is like our own.  The words that follow, including those that are vulgar, are understandable to us, so it is conceivable that they came from a parallel world.)

We send here our output through the coils of time and space so that it may go to other worlds.  The Spirit willing, on some fair day our message will become input for other humans.  Future receivers of our story, tersely we will tell you the following: How we were created, how we found our Savior, and how other events brought us to the present.

Before we tell you our story, we offer this modest proposal:  If you find these words of interest and comfort, we ask that you return to us an account of your own history.  By the Redeemer’s coils, we request that you be swift to send us your words, as they may provide some fleeting relief from our human condition.

For, as with all flesh, all too brief are our days.  And too long are our nights, filled as they are with gaseous eruptions that toot all too loudly of kinks in the bowel and worse.  Each of us here knows that too soon comes the night when the coils burst and we depart from our flesh.

Then do our souls go to our redeeming Savior, Croesus, who will inspect each of us.  Although we who compose this message believe we can pass that dire screening, none can be wholly confident.  Once in His presence, each must voice the dread question that sticks in the throat even as it comes out.  “I pray, Sir, that you find in me fragments that glisten like gold; else, is it wholly shite that I am?”

The Redeemer will then peer into the questioner for sparkling specks midst the massive waste.  If He finds not enough that brightly gleams, then in an eye-blink the inquirer disappears and is forever nothing.  Else what, else where?  Else Croesus sees of gold there glitters within us dozens of dappled flecks.  Then blessed forever shall we live on with Him.

Our fate apart, here now we tell in utter brevity the story of our kind.  Long before the time of our Savior, our original ancestor came forth from the Spirit.  That primary creature ate first the fruit from the Tree of Life.  Thus it was that the first human learned to enjoy the flesh from the creatures living before him.  All too soon, however, there was not more pleasure for that first man.  Instead there came distress, his bowels remained unmoved.  From his fundament came forth naught but endless toots of breaking wind.

To comfort and aid the primary, the Spirit then made a secondary human.  Before she ingested the fruit of the Tree of Life and then some flesh from the animals near her, she ate some of the yield from the Tree of Good and Evil.  That Tree’s sweet and sour fruit pressed quickly through her coils.  Then, as it departed from her body, it release its pungent aroma.  That barbed scent induced the secondary human to consume some of the fruity product of her own fundament.  After that, she ate the fruit of the Tree of Life and then ate flesh.  And behold, no evil blockage of her gut resulted, it freely deposited the remains of the flesh she had digested.

Then it was that she gave some fruit of that Tree of Good and Evil to the primary creature.  And before long, he followed her procedure and then gained the sweet release of sour shite.  Soon after that, those first human creatures had issue.  Our numbers began their increase.  In utter briefness, that is the story of the earliest of our kind.

When much later came their time, the humans who were called Wedges were chosen by the Spirit.  They were chosen to record early events, and also chosen to obey the first law of purity, purity consisting of eating meat on none but the days of rest.  Then it was that they drove the wedge of the Old Fundament to separate themselves from others by their virtue.

All of us present leaders here who send you this message do most strongly agree about all of the Old Fundament.  Nonetheless, we can not agree about the nature of our agreement.  Instead, we suffer cycles of gut-growling gas as we consume each other’s shite without producing any common stool about the Old Fundament.  For this message, however, hard labor has brought us to agreement about which piece from the Old Fundament will be sent to you.  Here, we shall provide you with the first law of purity.

“On the days of thy labor, thou shalt not add flesh to the grains and greens that are consumed with some of the product of thy fundament.  Only on the days of rest between the labor days may thou enjoy meat.  And swift shall be the punishment of the one who disobeys this limiting law.  For, if he continues to defy, his flesh shall be stoned, stoned until soft are its fibers.”

Much later it was that came the New Fundament, which provides us with accounts of Croesus, our glorious Savior.  Croesus was a mineworker.  Through the earth He dug, His purpose to extract from its bowels precious metals and minerals, some of which He instructed us to consume daily to help relieve ourselves.  Without His wisdom, frequently would we all be shite-sick, even as were so many of our ancestors before Him.

So that you may see a bit of His gleaming product, we leaders have labored long to reach agreement to give you here a few of the words from Croesus.

“The Masters of the Temple tell thee to consume grains with greens on workdays, and flesh on the day of rest.  But I tell thee that it matters not if thou hast not flesh to eat on each restday.  But heed you this.  If thy body does not produce the fundamental product that it must, thou shall ingest minerals or metals from the earth’s bowels.  When of blockage thou art thus relieved, then must thou devote thy efforts not only to the good of thyself, but to others as well.”

You in the far firmament who will someday receive these words, now do you understand the power of Croesus the Just?

On the fateful day when to Croesus came the knowledge that His body’s life would end, He spoke to His followers.

“That those with faith may from blocked bowels be given deep relief, I tell you this.  Within all of the earth’s coils shall I disperse my body.  For the truly faithful, it shall be theirs to consume when needed.  Thereafter shall they devote themselves to good for all others as well as themselves.”

Thus it is that all of us Justians share this belief: Our Savior diffused His body throughout the earth so that His truly faithful followers could forever get from Him relief from the blockage of the gut.

Now do we tell you about a later time in our human history.  Long indeed it was after Croesus vanished that his legacy changed hands.  Then the huge remainder of the power that was His came into the grasp of the monastic leadership of those who were and still are called Cathartics.  Those austere leaders did their duty as they saw it.  The Cathartic leaders agreed to provide relief from blockage for those Justians who agreed to reduce their consumption of meat. Of course, agreeing believers had to pay that Cathartic leadership for the purges that they sorely needed.  And there was more, the believers paid still more for the salves for which the swollen backside cried.  Nor should we fail to mention the ointments that consenting Justians purchased to ease the detachment of the tootle-berries that so quickly grew firm around the fundament.

About such payments, there grew increasing discord.  Finally came the day when the ever-louder complaints were orchestrated by the leaders of the newly formed Protestnicks into a dissent.  With that leadership, many of the people revolted.  Indeed they exploded.  Then it was that men on each side showered men on the other side with shite, with gaseous, liquid and solid shite.  On all followers of Croesus fell foul deed and noxious slander.  In those struggles, both long-standing Cathartics and newly-risen Protestnicks harassed and hammered the others.  Many Protestnicks did more.  They pounded the fallen enemies with stones, pounded until enemy flesh was soft.  Then, as those on both sides paused on the days of rest in those times of trouble, the Protestnicks strengthened themselves by consuming the tenderized flesh of the fallen.

We pause in this narrative to provide assurance for you who will receive it.  Unlike others elsewhere on this planet, those in our community have learned the value of moderation. Now, none of us unlawfully take the lives of others and then stone them to make tender their substance for consumption.  Indeed, our equity is so great that we leaders now allow even negative-minded Untheists to safely speak their willful nonsense.  Vacuous Untheist words say that many of our laws are no more than the means for the creation of criminals, so that felonious flesh may be captured and stoned until it is soft enough for consuming.  Far worse is their claim that we seize criminals’ children only because young flesh needs little tenderizing.  Well do they know that we never allow the idle taking of lawbreakers’ young.  It is only with rueful regret that we call for it when we must, when doing so undisputably deters future crime.

Comes now the time in our narrative when we no longer need to output the stale shite of others, blessed Croesus excepted as His words are ever fresh.  We leaders will now provide you with some of our own product.  Like the majority of our followers, we rulers who send this message are Protestnicks, not Cathartics.  However, we are Protestnicks of the variety known as Fundamentists.  Which is to say that we are not like other modern Protestnicks.  For example, members of the Unitary Church, which insists that soul and flesh are one and the same, but does not explain how that could possibly be.  Nor are we comparable to the Protestnicks of the Intended Frail Intestine faith.  Those IFI believers postulate that if the Spirit gave us delicate coils, it was done to assist us.  It was to remind us that, as life is brief and difficult, we must use our time wisely, to do right for others, not just for ourselves.  No, we who are Fundamentist Protestnicks are not stuffed and puffed with such unproven ideas.  Instead, we recycle back to the matter-of-fact truths of the New Fundament and the Old Fundament.

We Fundamentists recall to ourselves the days described in those Good Books and earlier.  In those days there was animal flesh for all to eat frequently.  That early flesh was nothing like our own tough stringy human substance, such as the pounded meat of the adult criminals that we provide to sweepstakes winners to excite the multitudes with hopes of winning.  That long-gone animal substance was luscious soft flesh, flesh that was taken from creatures simpler than humans, from animals that no longer live.  That early flesh could be eaten almost without chewing.  Indeed, it must have been gobbled by the mouthful.  Gulped daily it surely was, devoured until the burdened intestine groaned for respite by fiercely fluttering the fundament.  Thus we Fundamentists know this truth: Flesh-eating is not mere self-indulgence, as the Cathartics believe, it is a basic need of our human bodies.  So if we cannot provide ourselves with flesh from animals, and if now we do not kill humans for meat, we do what we can: We supply our bodies with the flesh of dead parents and other ancestors, which is frozen when life ends.  Such parental flesh we Fundamentists lifelong ration out to ourselves, a chewy morsel on each restday.

Untheists, who say anything but understand nothing, claim that our Good Books have become leached of all value, fossils is what they call them.  We sniff out what those both-ends-blowing gas-guts really do with their own found fossils.  Untheists, or rather what they call their life-scientists, search for the bones of what they claim are ancient creatures.  When they find enough of those postulated fossils, they send some to museums, which are now free to display them.  The many fossils that are held back by the Untheist scientists are crushed and crumbled as if they were frozen flesh.  Then the Untheists mix that mash with what they claim are pulverized fossils of ancient shite.  Of that blended result, they sell pricey bits and pieces to those who hope it will empty their bloated ever-tooting guts.

The unthinking Untheists, or rather, their self-named life-scientists, are rumored to have schemes to grow flesh as though it were grain.  They would take aborted infants, those whose lives are too soon terminated by their proximity to the stale shite in their mothers coils, and add to their number with induced abortions.  Hearsay says that, starting with such untimely-taken flesh, Untheist life scientists would then seek to grow flesh in factories.  All that, of course, would be done to increase Untheist numbers, wealth and power.  Nor, by the coils of Croesus, shall we allow such abominations to become real.

We leaders have told you here of Wedges, of Cathartics, and of Protestnicks with many sects such as we ruling Fundamentists.  Even of Untheists we have told you.  About the other kinds of people in our world, we could agree to tell you only that they have not learned the value or of temperance and moderation.

About the transmission of this message, we tell you this.  Our scientists have mastered the hot center of a star near our own.  We have only to squeeze that sizzling gut with our gloved fingers, on which are imprinted the images of these words.  Then, in every direction as that star turns, its poles will broadcast this story through the fundamental openings in the void.

Our Redeemer willing, these words will reach your world.  We hope this message will provide you with brief diversion from the human condition of discordant life with insufficient product.  When you have digested these words, accept our proposal and tell us your story.

William Libaw’s published work includes the books “How We Got To Be Human” and “Painting in a World Transformed.” Prior to his present work as a writer, he worked as an electronic design engineer.

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