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Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses; FRIENDSHIP CANNON TARGET CAE-DOT ACQUIRED
Topic Started: Feb 15 2016, 08:14 PM (983 Views)
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((Abby Floyd Continued From Involvement))

There was a lot to be said for things like the Kings James Version of the Bible. The rich, flowing language, if a little hard to read, had a sense of grandeur and reverence to it that tickled her and made the whole thing feel more alive and steeped in history and myth. That was part of the problem, though: it made God and His message distant to her, as pretty as it was, like a time-lost text she was just happening to glance at through a little bit of luck and spitshine. As fun as the language was, she didn't like that.

That's why she was unwinding from the long day with her dog-eared copy of The Message, a straight-shooting translation that dropped some floweriness and poise to make sure that the language was 110% clear and relatable for a modern reader. Some of the language was a touch out of her liking, no hemming about that, but it was clear as crystal and that was what was important. It helped the idea of religion stay fresh, close, and most importantly interpretive. It reminded her that despite all the airs, as it says, "God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God's Word. We can't get away from it-no matter what." Hebrews 4:12.

It was a pretty day for steeping the old brain in the Word, she reckoned, though she wouldn't mind some company. The green grass and sparkling sun was inviting everyone to come out and see nature's splendor in all its glory, and she'd love to share it with someone. It'd help keep her mind off poor Shelley.
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Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others? James 4:11-12. James was an interesting book, in Abby's opinion. A little hairy when it came down to who James really was, if he even wrote part or all of the book, or when it was written. That didn't matter all that much to her, though. The Word of God was a conversation, no matter who delivered it, and everyone was having a different chat if they were listening right. Who started, when, and exactly what words they used didn't matter that much in the end.

There was probably a reason she ran across this particular verse today. There usually was. She just couldn't put her finger on it yet. Maybe she should talk to Granny about it when she got home, or see if she could find one of her church friends. There were a few things weighing on her mind right now, but she didn't see how it fit into any of them right off the top of her head. If it was important, though, the Lord would find a way to get it through her head sooner or later!

Irene popped up out of nowhere, giving Abby a bit of a start. She had a look in her eyes that said her mind was working like a race horse, which brought a grin to her face. "Hey, Irene! Nope," she said as she tapped the page, "just having a little heart to heart. What're you up to today, hun?"
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"Oh, just James," she said idly as Irene perched over her shoulder, "I'm not scratching for anything particular today, just seeing what the good Lord has to say." Abby had no clue if Irene was particularly religious or not, but most folks around Kingman would probably pick up what she meant. Her smile turned playful as she raised her eyebrow slightly. "So far he's not too talkative, but I got my ears put on the wrong way 'round this morning."

Some people might object to the intrusion of personal space, but Abby wasn't one of them. She liked being close to folks, and Irene had never done anything to rub her the wrong way, so she was free to get as cozy as she liked. With a round finger, she traced along the verse she'd just been reading. "Lots of talk about not sassing or undermining folks for spite, mind, but I can't think of anybody I'm lookin' to badmouth?" Shelley's parents and the nasty thoughts she'd been biting back about them drifted across her mind, causing her to grimace. "Not anybody He's not already got an earful marked for someday, leastways."

She nodded when Irene mentioned her busy lifestyle. "Well, the family and the shelter and the clinic all keep me hopping in their own way, it's true, but it's the kind of busy I like to be caught up in. There's nothing quite like easing somebody else's struggle...even if they can't do much more than purr and rub your hand to give thanks," she said with a chuckle. "I'm sure I don't have to tell you none of that, though. You've always seemed like the kind of gal with a heart for others."
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"Well..." Abby started hesitantly. It was always a little tricky trying to explain her roundabout way of understanding the Bible without sounding completely crazy. "It's a little complicated, to be frank. I'm not too interested in talking to James, though I'm sure he was a swell guy what with being the brother of Jesus and all! For me, though, reading the Bible is about seeing what God had to say to someone else, or at least what they thought He did, and what He can say to you through that, if that makes any sense?" It probably didn't. This was one of those struggles of not being a "yes sir" sort of Christian, as she put it. People got your points a lot quicker when they were straightforward, even if that made them worse points in her opinion. The good Lord never promised her or anybody else the easy way, though, so she couldn't complain.

She giggled a bit at the imagery of Irene's...compliment? It sure felt like one, and she liked to assume the best. Irene didn't seem like the type to work in sneaky back-sass for no reason. Not that Abby knew her extremely well, but she'd never heard tell of Irene getting into that sort of trouble, and she wasn't about to side-eye someone for making pleasant conversation. That kind of thinking just got you all tied up in knots and worries until you assume everyone's got something nasty to say about you!

Irene seemed interested in her work at the shelter, and in her Bible, so she nodded eagerly as she let her turn the page onward. "Mmmhmm! Usually three or so afternoons and nights at Cornerstone or Safehouse, then maybe a night or two at my dad's vet clinic, and as much time as I can with the family." That had been less and less recently, as she spent more time at one shelter or another. Three nights was probably a conservative estimate, to be honest. She felt a little guilty about that, but there were so many people in need. The notion shook off as she forced herself back into the present and smiled up at Irene. "How about you? What're you getting up to these days?"
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Oh Lord, she thought with a smile, here we go! Getting into these sorts of questions always excited her. "It's slippery, when it comes to Mary! Some people say the "Virgin" part of "The Virgin Mary" only matters for Jesus's birth, and after that all bets are off. More traditional folks are hung up on her being a virgin her whole life and reject James as anymore than a "brother in Christ," like all other Christians, and just think of the two of them as pretty close? You're right though, it's exactly the sort of thing that'd make for a great English assignment!"

English might be a little bit of a simplification. To really get into all of it you'd have to do a little bit of Latin and Hebrew, at the very least, though luckily there were a lot of folks who'd already done the legwork there. Still, it might be a little much for a high school assignment? Abby would have a blast with it, though, and she imagined Irene probably would too from her interest. 'Course, some of the more stuck-up types would get fussy about the whole thing, but what was the harm in just talking? It always seemed so silly to her to get worked up about what other people thought about God, as long as they weren't using it to hurt anybody.

Irene had a pretty cute giggle. Had she ever laughed around her before? Maybe they just didn't hang out enough. That could change, though! She always liked making new friends, and she seemed kind of intent on breezing through her Bible. Time would probably be an issue, as she kind of pointed out while marveling at how much time Abby spent away. She gave a small shrug and a chuckle. "I don't need that much spare time, really. I'd rather be helping someone out than taking time for myself, it's just sort of how I'm wired? When I'm on my lonesome with nothing to do, I can't help but think of all the things I could be doing to make the world a little brighter instead, and it makes me sort of antsy. It's like an itch I've just gotta scratch, if that makes sense?"

League of Legends? Abby felt like she'd heard people talking about it before, but she wasn't into video games. Still, as long as Irene was having fun! "That sounds like a great goal," she said with a smile, "get a little bit of that girl power going around! I mean, that's just as important as anything else. Everybody needs someone to look up to, and I'm sure there's all sorts of people you could inspire by being a positive example in the whole gaming thing!"
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Abby wanted to chase this dragon about talking to an English teacher or two about critical Bible reading, but sandwiched in her head between spilling about beliefs and trying to process all of Irene's gamer talk it got all smushed up and forgotten. As the stream of confusing words Irene had blurted out rumbled back through her head, she shook it slowly and looked up at her with amazement. "Gosh. How you keep all that straight, I'll never know! You sound like you've got it all pretty well figured out, though. I'd get so lost, trying to pull anything like that off, but I'm sure you've got a real knack for it."

Now, this sort of talk could be shaky ground with some folks. Irene seemed like she didn't mind too much, though, so when she asked Abby's opinion she was happy to give it. "I'm not much for tradition, as it turns out," she giggled, "I'm part of a wacky offshoot that's been popping up over the last few years. I don't know if you've ever heard of a fella named Rob Bell, but he's a kinda controversial writer and pastor I like to study. Lots of beliefs like no Hell, be nice to everybody, nobody's got room to judge anyone else and we should all support each other to have the best journey we can." She pulled a slightly sarcastic smile and dropped her voice in mock secrecy. "Y'know, really crazy stuff like mutual decency and charity and the like." Someone might note that last bit was dangerously close to sass, but Abby was sure she had no idea what they could be thinking.

Her mind was circling back around just right now, as she stretched back against the tree. "Do you have any sorta philosophy you dig into, Irene? If that's alright to ask!"
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A scare tactic came pretty close to Abby's opinion. Whether it came from good or bad intention, telling people they were going to be punished forever was a cheap and dishonest trick in her mind, one that didn't line up with the picture of love, sacrifice, and patience that she felt God represented. From what she understood, the whole thing was a whole lot more like the Greek conception of the afterlife than the one present in Judaism. Not that she was an expert in either, mind, but still. I

"Scare tactic is sort of there," she agreed, "though I like to think of it more as a compromise? The Bible's full of 'em. You won't find much talk of Hell in the Old Testament, for instance, that was a very New Church idea that a lot of scholars think stemmed from appeals to post-Hellenic beliefs! It's why you have to take the Gospels, and even more Paul's letters, with a grain of salt. They were all trying to appeal to their audience and that made them tweak things here and there. I like to think their heart was in the right place, but boy, does it leave us with a mess in the here and now!"

She nodded as she thought about Irene's brief notes on philosophy. "I can get all sorts of behind that. I mean," she said with a little bit of a wry grin, "firsthand experience with my dads doesn't leave me much room in the way of warm and fuzzies on the conservative end of things. I'm not inclined to give much to anybody who would discriminate against me and mine."
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Oh. Oh dear. Irene had misunderstood her just a little bit, and Abby couldn't help giggling. "Oh Irene, I'm sorry, that was my fault! I forget that some people don't know. It's not like that and, uh, it's not a matter of "he", but "they." I have two dads, and they're not real political or anything, but just kinda by existing there's not a lot for a gal like me on the conservative side of things."

She stretched back against the tree and folded her hands against her stomach. "Not that I don't think there are any LGBT conservatives, mind, or that they can never get along, just, with the way things are on that side right now, there's a lot of animosity over rights and such that makes me real uncomfortable. I just want people to be happy and free to be themselves. I don't feel like that's too much to ask, personally."
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Irene was still in good spirits, so she didn't seem to mind the mix up. Abby was worried for a bit there that she could have been, or that she'd be embarrassed, some folks kind of fumble over that kind of thing and get caught up in the details and don't rightly know how to talk about it or move on. She was glad that Irene wasn't one of those types, though, it made talking to her so easy. Why hadn't they hung out more before?

"Y'know, I don't rightly understand it myself. Some people just have to involve themselves in what they don't understand, I suppose? Someone's always trying to run somebody else's life, as if their not busy enough sortin' through their own. Personally, I can't imagine having that kind of time!"

Her bright smile darkened as the shadows of Shelley danced across her thoughts. "I guess it's not too surprising, though. Some people...it just don't take somebody being different or strange to them, they'll hurt any old body they feel like. Even people they're supposed to love." She tried to force a smile and shake the shade out of her head as she looked back up at Irene. "Not much you can do than try to pick up the pieces they leave behind, though."
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"A bit, yeah..."

Abby didn't know what else to say for the moment. It was hard to be upbeat about this kinda thing, and she didn't want to drag Irene down. Normally she could spin right past dark thoughts, but...God knows, it weighs on a body after a little while, feeling so helpless. She wanted to do more, and she couldn't, and she wouldn't be able to for a long time. Even though she knew that was for the best, that she wasn't prepared to do anything more than be a quiet ear and a shoulder to cry on for the most part, it frustrated her to no end to have all these people hurting that she couldn't do anything for, no matter how hard she tried.

"Sorry, I just..." Oh no. Those were definitely tears, it wouldn't do to just start crying in the middle of a conversation like this, she couldn't drop this whole emotional mess on Irene, it wouldn't be fair! She did her best to smile and pretend there was something in her eye. "At the shelter, you see and, um, hear things, sometimes. But it's alright. You just have to do your best to make things work out, you know?"
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Oh, she'd really done it now. This poor sweet girl just wanted some company and a brief chit chat between classes and she'd gone and dragged everything down talking about things she had no right or reason to spread. How selfish could she be to force her feelings on somebody else like that? She was usually good at keeping this kind of thing under control, but the emotions had gotten right under her skin this time.

She was in over her head. She needed to talk to somebody, that was for sure. Not Irene though, that would be too much to lay on her. They barely knew each other, and all of this already had her looking so out of sorts. It was best just to move on and try to salvage things in a happier direction.

Abby shook her head gently and tried to smile to salvage the situation. "Oh, no, no, don't worry about it, it's fine. I just, I had a little moment. Don't worry about it!" Should she wipe the tears away, or would that only make it more obvious that she was covering up? Would it be uncomfortable to leave them there? Lord, she didn't want to make things even worse on Irene, she'd already done enough! With a little shake she wiped the tears away and sighed. "I'm so sorry, Irene, I don't know what's gotten into me all the sudden."
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See, everything was alright. She'd even made a new friend. That was something to be positive about, wasn't it? Maybe that was the plan for her today all along, to just take her mind off of this whole thing and let her get some space in the company of a lovely person.

That sounded right. It felt right. That's how things were supposed to work, after all. Everything had a purpose.

She tried to keep that in mind as the hollow feeling in the pit of her stomach kept gnawing at her on the way back to class and beyond.

((Abby Floyd Continued Wasserwebber))
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