Thursday, December 26, 2013

tolkien wept

I have been a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien since I was 17 (which is a very long time ago).  I had always looked forward to the day when cinematic technology could bring his characters to life.  I wasn't disappointment with Peter Jackson's Lord of The Rings Trilogy ten years ago.  Sure there were some changes to the script, but Jackson gave a good telling.  I enjoyed the movies so much that I purchased the deluxe set of these movies.  I wasn't the least bit disappointed.

When the first installment of The Hobbit came out, I wasn't disappointed.  Peter Jackson had taken some liberty to the storyline by making it more of a prequel to the LOTR tale.  I didn't have a problem with it.  The story didn't divert too far from the author's path.

Tonight I took my family to see the second installment of The Hobbit ~ The Desolation of Smaug.  I believe Peter Jackson should be bitch-slapped for the complete distortion of Tolkien's wonderful tale.  I guess Jackson decided that he could tell the story better than Tolkien.  It seemed as if Jackson simply decided to lift Tolkien's characters and tell a completely story.  If Tolkien were still alive today, he'd be the one doing the bitch-slapping.

I don't know why Jackson had to inject the Legolas character into the story.  I guess Peter thought it would be cool to drop the LOTR swashbuckling elf character right in the middle of The Hobbit.  I say, why not just Legolas ~ why not throw in Aslan and Darth Vader too! 

Going to see The Hobbit was a waste of my time and money.  The Desolation of Smaug is so bad that I walked out not caring to see the rest.  This movie was so bad that I'm not even interested in seeing the final installment when it comes out.  I won't even watch it when it's released on Redbox.  Once upon a time I had hopes of owning the deluxe edition of The Hobbit - but I am not the least bit interested.  Peter Jackson screwed the pooch
.  Peter Jackson is dead to me.

Tagline: Peter Jackson, The Hobbit, Smaug, Rotten Tomatoes, Reviews, RUN AWAY-RUN AWAY!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Goodbye Betty

Gina never was a night owl like me.  I'd take her home early from our dates and she'd go to bed around 9 or 9:30.  Gina's mom was a night owl like me.  We got along just fine.  Gina would yawn and go to bed and Mrs. Hale and I would hang out and talk on into the night.

I think it was good therapy for Betty because she'd talk a lot about her divorce from Walter.  There was still a great deal of hurt there.  She still loved Walter and had forgiven him a long time ago. She could've become a broken and bitter woman, but she was a better person than that.  She was an amazing woman.

In spite of the pain and setbacks in life, Mrs. Hale was one of the most joyful and upbeat women I've ever known.  Gina has that trait of her mother's and that's one of the reasons that attracted me to her.

They say if you want to know what a girl is going to be like in twenty years, look at her mother.  I liked Mrs. Hale from the start.  If Gina was going to be anything like her mom, that girl was for me.  It proved true for me. Gina is the joyful optimist like her mom.  Like her mom, she's beautiful inside and out.

Mrs. Hale was a giving soul who gave to a fault.  I felt kind of protective of her because I'd see people take advantage of her generosity. She never had much, but was always willing to share from a bountiful heart.  She always expected the best of people.  She was often disappointed by people, but always hopeful that they would eventually see the error of their ways and change for the better.

The greatest gift Betty ever gave me was her love.  I was never-NEVER treated as a son in-law.  Mrs Hale immediately embraced me as her son.  As I type this, I wipe tears from my eyes.  She loved me as her son.  When her oldest son died of cancer a decade ago - she said she looked to me and relied on me, my help, my council as she had her beloved Terry.  I am honored to have been accepted and loved like that.  I will always be grateful for her love.

While she lay dying, most of her words were difficult to make out through the oxygen mask that had been strapped over her head.   Her body had been beaten down by illness, no more resistance, she had become so very weak and  frail.

I sat by her bed ~ held her hand into the night.  She couldn't say much, but her eyes always said what was on her heart. Her eyes glistened with love.  "I love you too Betty."  One of the last things she said to me Thursday night was that she wanted to die.  She was so miserable, experiencing so much discomfort and pain.  I sat there in the dark hospital room and gently responded by telling her that there was nothing else the doctors could do ~ that she was already in her dying stages.  She didn't respond, her eyes made direct contact as I told her.  She understood.

She had fought a good fight, ran a good race and was ready to go home.  We love you Betty.  We will never be able to out give the love you gave to each of us. We are better people for having experienced your love.  Thank you!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Letter to Benjamin Smyth

Dr. Benjamin G. Smyth
 Dear Benjamin,

I am glad your letter found it's way to me. You were only a sprout of a fellow when I last saw you.  I figured that you would probably remember little about your Papa and Mama, seeing how you were so young at the time.  It's impossible for me to write this letter and imagine what you would look like today.  If memory serves me, you favored your father in the face, possessing the color of your mother's eyes.  It's been a long time, but I loved the Smyth family and wished in this life that I could've done more.

Let me tell you that you come from a kind and generous people. I have always had a great appreciation and affection for you family.  Your father Graham found me gravely ill in my tent at my claim and rescued me from a most certain death.  That is how we met, him saving my life.  I was then welcomed into your household, nurtured back to health and invited to stay until I could build a more suitable dwelling to survive the merciless seasons of that country in which you were born.

I often wonder if that old cabin that your father helped me to build is still standing.  I left it all behind after my encounter with John and Murdock Westbrook.  I have many memories both bitter and pleasant of my years there.  The most pleasant are the times spent with my friends the Smyths.

You asked many questions in your letter about your parents and that time, the tragedy that befell your family.  You were very young indeed and I count it a blessing that you remember little of it.  I don't mind answering these questions as to what transpired regarding your family, the Westbrooks, and myself.   I was there and can bring to light what happened or at least details that you may not have been told.  Forgive me if I get to chasing rabbits and not stay on topic here and there.   So much happened then and all I could do was take life one day at a time, each trial as it came, being the best servant this bewildered soul could attempt.  I hope I can put my memories into words clearly and in order.  To answer your questions as forthright at possible, with minimal detours, I will respond in the following manner.

John and Murdock had many experiences with the vampir sort long before their encounter with your family.  I learned in time that they too were survivors of this curse.  They like you, were children orphaned by like demonic activity.  They were saved by a cousin who was a Christian, who removed from them from their home and community that had been plagued by the same type spirits.  Those who had tried to help before, who did not have the blood of Christ within their veins, were ignorant to the danger and found themselves and their families vulnerable to attack.  John and Murdock were saved by faith, by the cleansing power that is the blood of Jesus Christ.

What a great blessing to me to read that you are a Christian.  Like you, I did not come to know the Lord through fear of the demonic, nor because of the fires of hell, but rather introduced to God's reality and the reality of his love for me through John and Murdock's ministry.  I am forever grateful for God have putting them in my path.

I spent three years riding with them, much like one of those disciples of old who dropped all they had and knew and followed Jesus.  I became a believer because of what I had witnessed that day on your father's farm.  I realized in order to help your parents situation that I needed to open my eyes to this evil and equip myself for the duration.  Your Papa and Mama helped me when I was in need and I so direly desired to help your Mama, and the surviving children.

John stayed for a week at my cabin and then left to attend to his circuit.  Murdock remained with me through the Spring of that year to help raise me from milk to meat.  There was not an emphasis on teaching about dealing with the vampir sort, but rather strengthening my knowledge of the Gospels, giving my faith a solid foundation and instruction on putting on the whole armor of God.

Do not hold any animosity toward John and Murdock for leaving your mother that day.  They knew what they were dealing with more than I did at that moment in time.  The accessed the situation correctly.  I was there.  If it were not for John and Murdock, I would not have been able to have helped you and your siblings in the way that I did.  You must be grateful and give thanks to God for these good men to have been sent your family's way.

Your mother did not want to believe her husband and your older brothers were already dead.  I went back to her to speak and reason with her.  There was something different about her after she fainted that day at the root cellar door.  She was deceived by a familiar spirits and was lost to us.  She could only see the face of her husband, her children and not the distortion that death had brought upon their pale features.  There came a time when not only my pleas were rejected, but I was ordered to leave and to never return. 
I realized later that she too had been possessed by a spirit.  
The paper of that day reported that your mother died by your father's hand.  In the world's view this is true.  But I know the being that attacked your poor mother was not in reality your father.  The beings that fed off her flesh were no longer members of your family.  It was a sensational story for that day and countless rumors were born from it.  I knew your family.  I loved your family.  This tragedy is just the same as if a pack of ravenous wolves were allowed into an unprotected home.  I do not write this to unsettle you, but with hopes to ease your mind after all these years.  I am merely trying to answer one of your questions.

I remember Graham and Stella Smyth.  Though their deaths were tragic, they were a generous and good people.  They were not Christian though, and it breaks my heart.  I too at that time did not believe.  It could have just as easily have been me to have been attacked this way.

I do not advise you go back to that valley of death.  There is nothing there for you, or your sisters to see there.  What was once your childhood home place is no more.  It was burned down long ago by neighbors who feared the evil thing that once happened there.

Burning down the Smyth farm did not help them.  I can only surmise that it was like throwing grease on a fire, causing a vampir outbreak to spring from it.  When I heard of the rumors, I was led by the Lord to depart from John and Murdock's good company, to return to the valley and surrounding communities to deal with the problem.  It is for this reason that I eventually helped to establish a church that was soon to be given under the charge of the Methodist Episcopal denomination.  The church came about due to the need of a constant fellowship for families dealing with ongoing demonic attacks.   The community was in need of more than what traveling clergy were able to provide.  The believers were fighting a difficult battle if pastors were rotated in and out and having to travel about their circuit.

Clearwater County was infested with the enemy and we were at war.   We could not afford to spend time dealing with the politics of church - praying that inexperienced clergy coming in were equipped to lead in such conflicts.  We were grateful that the Presiding Elder, after an interesting Quarterly Conference visit, saw to the matter that our congregation allowed special provision for our unique need for a full time pastor, that which I was eventually appointed.  Need I mention that this was indeed a very peculiar fellowship. 
As terrible a time we all had then, we became a very close family.  We were not just survivors, but became more than conquerors.

I know I have rambled a little, but thought it necessary that I let you know what transpired after your parent's deaths.  It is my hope that you don't look back anymore than necessary.  Do not dwell on the sadness, but rather "may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."

Faithfully Yours,
Pastor Tom Campbell

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Gun and Gospel

Upon seeing the horseback preacher drawing a shotgun, Mrs. Smyth's face drew pale as she took two steps backward to block the cellar door.

"What is this? her words choked with surprise as tears began to well in her grey eyes.   Did you not come to pray and heal?  Did you not come to bring a work of God?

John and Murdock stopped in front of her and listened to her finish.

"Did you not come to bring God instead of a GUN?"

"We have come to bring life to you and all who remain living in your household and in your community.  We come to end the death in this valley."

Stella did not wipe the tears as they streamed down her face and dropped from her cheeks.  Her surprised and trembling voice turned harsh as she had become angry.

"You bring death!  My husband, my sons are sick and you so called men of God have come this far just to kill my family as if they were rabid animals?"

"They are already dead woman, you know this to be true.  Your beloved are no longer living.  We must have your permission to finish this."

"Leave my family alone! Leave us this instance!"


John handed the Gemmer over to Murdock and asked him to retrieve the horses.

"Is that all?,
asked Tom.

"That is all." replied Murdock as he turned to walk back to the oak.

"You've come far preacher.  Please tell me that you are not just leaving without doing something for my friends." said Tom.

"There is nothing that can be done. We have no authority here." replied John.

Mrs. Smyth stood in front of the door as the spirits on the other side began to laugh through the throats of the dead.  The ungodly sounds they made were otherworldly and dreadful.

Mrs. Smyth's eyes rolled back into her head and she swooned.

John caught her as her legs gave out beneath her.  The dead began beating from within the root cellar and started calling out to the preachers by name.  There was no way that they would have known unless it was by demonic sense.  Tom Campbell jumped back and away from the cellar ~ his face as pale as death.  Murdock immediately returned without the horses still grasping the Genner.

"I've never heard Graham or any of his boys talk like that!" exclaimed Tom.  "I've never heard that kind of tone from any man ~ or anyone with such a foul mouth or ghastly voice."

"That is no longer your friend, but the body defiled by demonic presence." answered John.

"Well now that she's passed out, can't you just go ahead and put an end to it?" asked Tom.

"No." said John, as he picked up Mrs. Smyth and carried her to the house.

Murdock approached Tom Campbell and asked if they could distance themselves from the terrible commotion and talk by yon oak.  Tom walked with him.  His hands were shaking and his body slightly trembling from the shouts from the cellar.  Tom seem to calm as they put a little distance from the sounds and the shouts.

"You and your brother have come a long way and yet you refuse because you don't have permission of some sort.  She gave it to you.  I heard her tell you this.  Just go in and end it while she is no longer blocking the doorway."

"It doesn't work like that Mr. Campbell.  It is not God's way to coerce man.  Man must choose to obey.  Man must choose to surrender to God's will.  God's desire is to free man, but we must each willfully become his slaves."

Tom was still rattled but had become a little agitated, "You talk riddles, but what I think you're saying is you don't have her permission and so God's not going to make things right here!"

"Close enough."
answered Murdock.

John returned and mounted his horse.

"Do you know the way back?" asked Tom.

"We'll make it alright."
replied John.

Murdock shook Tom's hand and gave him instruction.  "Tell her to leave that door shut and locked. There is no reason on earth to go in or near it.  This is an even more perilous place now because the demons have been exposed.  They know why we were here today.  This is not a safe place."

"What am I to do?  I can not leave her hear defenseless." exclaimed Tom

"She has left herself defenseless.  There is nothing we can do here."

John nudged his horse over to the two men.  "Tom, what do you know of Jesus, of his life, death and resurrection?

"I heard of it, but they were always just stories to me.  I never was much of a believer in such things..." He looked over toward the cellar doors and pondered on the voices still coming from beyond. "...but I now have reason to believe, to pray that there is greater good that can counter this evil that I have now laid witness."

John smiled down and the man looking up at him.  "Can you read Tom?"

"Yes sir."

We must leave here immediately," interrupted Murdock as he mounted, "Where do you live?

"About an hour's ride north of here", replied Tom.

"May we come and stay with you for a few days before heading back?"

"You have my permission ~ If you don't mind a small cabin with mud for a floor."

"We don't mind."

The three set out together.

"Tom", said John, "I'm going to give you my Bible."

"I can't take your holy book preacher.  I do have one.  It is the family Bible that my mother gave me before she died.  I kept it as a keepsake of her."

"Let's get you reading it.  It is my hope that this book becomes more than a keepsake for you."

They road up from the valley leaving the Graham farm behind.  John and Murdock did not look back, but Tom did, several times until it was out of sight.

"I'm not going to get over this.  I want to help her and her remaining young'uns."

"You can Tom Campbell, but you must come back with the Holy Spirit and properly equipped.  When you are able to return, you may very well be able to help Mrs. Graham in convincing her to let us return to free her from the curse. We will return if she ever changes her mind."

"What if she refuses."
asked Tom.

"Then you'll leave as we left and do your best to keep people from there."
replied Murdock.

"This has been a waste of time men, and for that I am sorry to have brought you out."

Murdock looked over his shoulder to Tom, "This has not been a waste Mr. Campbell."

"Why is that?" asked Tom.

"We have come for you."