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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: At the Pulpit (11/15/07)

TITLE: Growing popularity, increasing danger
By Josiah Kane
11/21/07


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Pastor Augustine was listening intently to the man at the head of the great hall. Standing upon a simple wooden block the man was delivering a much better talk than Augustine had heard in a dozen annual church conferences. The delegate was so insistent upon peace that he adamantly refused to have guards in this meeting in Kiev, Ukraine. Five hundred citizens were listening to the well known minister who was rapidly gaining influence. There were even a number of government leaders in the crowd. Yet the earnestness of his words, delivered in person rather than on screen, would probably even turn an assassin from his destructive path.

He had proposed a global yet both simple and fair food distribution scheme as part of his ideals on material equality. Indeed he had pledged twenty million dollars out of his own bank to fund this. The banquet in the opposite hall was free for anyone who had been in the session, and any leftovers (probably whole turkeys and an abundance of rice) would be collected and given to the people outside.

He vowed to use all his influence, be it social, religious, or political, to root out corruption. Police would be vigorously filtered through a mesh of tests to ensure that only those with the interests of the people would remain in service. Meanwhile he was certain that the American government would be able to make the rulers accountable to the people.

Augustine was straining his ears to hear over the noise of eight hundred visitors. He burst out with a heartfelt “AMEN” but was given a strangely disapproving look by the speaker and his friends. Straight away Augustine mentally reproached himself with “What was I doing drowning out this great man’s speech?”

Then the great orator came up with a stunning idea. He said that Karl Marx was correct. He claimed that the Communism set forth in Marx’s books was exactly what the world needed, and he wished to bring the human race together in such a community. Then as what were now nearly a thousand voices rose in disapproval; he shouted that this did not mean that he intended to defend Vladimir Lenin for his terrible power-seeking crimes. Rather he claimed to wish to build up a proper world society based upon the best elements in Islamic, Christian, Jewish or Buddhist monasteries. Within this everything would be held in common and thus there would be no need for crime. The burden of the lowest jobs would be shared out between the entire population, with robots taking the vilest ones, If skills were thus mismanaged an alternative system, possibly based on the Medieval European guilds, would be phased in to manage skilled work. But he was convinced that “All you people will be able to live equally with your brethren in America.”

Augustine agreed. During his studies of the Benedictine monks he had come to the same conclusion. He was going to follow this man to the heavenly earth that must come. Augustine barely noticed the next sentences, explaining how this would be founded on common interest, not such fickle or fractured ideas as faith, prayer or love. Thus the insurmountable fact that in the Monasteries these had been the primary points in life did not occur to Augustine. The speaker also neglected to say that people would be forced into this regime.

But Augustine’s heart was set. Like one thousand five hundred citizens, as well as a few who came for the turkeys and rice, he would follow this man in whatever task the man, quickly becoming an idol, undertook. Augustine could not hear a word among the now immense crowd. But by the grace of God his fifteen-year-old daughter was alerted by a number in small print beside the speaker’s name on the wristbands sold at the main door as an advertisement. It was the number six hundred and sixty-six.


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Beth LaBuff 11/24/07
Chilling ending! You've written this very well. I was going through the little I knew of history trying to match up the events. :) Very well done!!
Laury Hubrich 11/24/07
This was an interesting piece but quite scary. Thank you for sharing!
Laury