This blog post will be in essence a journal entry for myself. I have been struggling with motivation far longer than this quarantine. I think it started back in September of last year when I started experiencing medical issues. I just don't have much motivation to do my normal 9 to 5 job. I am able to work on personal projects but not 10 hours straight as my day job requires. My hope is to one day work in ministry full-time, but until then I need to bite the bullet.
I think God knew I needed time off. My company moved everyone to work from home, and since I am considered at risk, I was the first to go. Unfortunately, no one could get me access to work from home. It took over a month to get my pin to work that let me into our virtual system. So, during that time, I was able to work on passion projects and be lazy when I needed to be.
May 1st was the first day working at home. I only worked a couple hours before experiencing some more technical issues which are still present as I type this a day later. We hope to have it fixed by this afternoon. Am I experiencing burn out? Does it have something to do with my anxiety disorder? No clue. I pray that I am able to get through this.
Thanks for letting me vent for those who read this far. Let me know in the comments if you've experienced anything like this. If so, what helped?
Until next time!
Written by Alexander M. Burchnell
Edited by Christopher J. Burchnell
If you have been following my faith journey via this blog or our social media, you would know that I became a Christian again a couple years ago. I was baptized in March of 2018 at an unaffirming church. I have since then found an amazing church that supports my marriage and transgender status; for this I am incredibly grateful.
The church we are at fosters a safe space to explore oneself, including beliefs. We still hold to Jesus being the Lord and Savior of us all but we are able to interpret what the rest of it means. For example, some Christians believe in the Holy Trinity while others believe differently. Some are pro-canonization of the Bible while others aren't. Some are interested in Biblical feasts and others not so much. Even though we are one church body, it doesn't mean that it isn't incredibly diverse. We can have different interpretations without fracturing, and that is the beauty of Landmark Worship Center.
Recently, we sat down on our Pastor's back porch just talking as Southerners tend to do. The topic of the Laws came up, which caused me to spiral down a rabbit hole for a few hours. The question was posed, did Jesus fulfill the Law to the point that we are no longer bound in it or do we still need to try to follow it to the best of our ability? Some said yes to the latter. Jesus fulfilled the sacrifices required by those who break the law. Atonement isn't something we do anymore thanks to Christ. Foods are no longer sinful because Jesus stated, "...It's not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart." But what about the rest of the Laws? Do we still abide by them or do we let the Holy Spirit guide us from within?
While my husband Chris and I drove home that night, I continued to ask questions. Should we still follow some of the laws? Should they be a guide post or goal to achieve? Are we offending God when we where mixed fabrics? How can I possibly follow over 600 laws? These questions crashed in my head and started raising anxieties for me. My husband, the wonderful man that he is, helped me to gain some clarity and perspective. Jesus died for us so that we are set free from the law, free from having to worry as I was doing in those moments. If Christ wants us to follow something or make a change, he will guide us to do so. He wants to take our fears and burdens from us. Just relinquish it to Him and let it be. That, gave me peace.
Our belief in Jesus is a never ending journey. When we try to place an "end" to it, which can include trying to pin something down like following the law, we become focused on the wrong thing. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.
Until next time,
Written by Alexander M. Burchnell
Edited by Christopher J. Burchnell
The next day, after a blessedly rock-free sleep, Tal and Aira arrived in a part of the forest unlike anything they’d seen previously. The trees were just as thick around them, but the ground they walked on was somehow tamer. Aira found herself stumbling over roots and rocks less. In fact, she realized, she didn’t see any on the path. And, moreover, the ground had become a path in truth. Perhaps even a road. As they continued, large paving stones dotted the way until finally they were all Tal and Aira were walking on.
The scents in the air changed. Where before, Aira could smell the leaves of the trees and small animals, she now smelled something musty and slightly burnt. Like the smell of cookfires and fur. She glanced at Tal and noticed a slight smile on his face. He seemed to feel her eyes on him because he looked over her and nodded.
“Good guess,” he said, “I do believe we are here. Look in the trees on either side of us. Do you see them?”
Aira felt her heart flutter, and her stomach jump as she looked. There, in the shadow of the trees, were figures carrying crossbows and spears. Some even had purple and teal glowing lights around their hands, obviously readying Nightforce to use against Tal and Aira should they prove hostile. Aira gulped and tightened the grip on her crossbow but resisted the urge to summon her Nightforce to her hands. She would not want to be the reason these figures attacked, though she would be prepared. Glancing over at Tal, she was surprised to see his smile fading and his eyes narrowing.
“What’s wrong?” she whispered, betting that he would be able to hear her. He was part werewolf after all.
He shook his head at her and motioned her to stay with him. Then he eased the sword from its scabbard, his stance becoming more guarded and somehow more athletic. Did he think they would attack?
Suddenly, a tall man appeared next to them and began walking alongside Tal. “Greetings, travelers. What brings you here?”
Tal flicked his green-black eyes down at the man, taking in the long dagger held ready in one hand and the purple glow of Nightforce cloaking the other. “I was summoned by the Alpha. I have traveled from Lartnek to meet with your leader.”
“Hmm,” the man sighed, tucking a strand of black hair behind his pointed ear, “I don’t suppose you have the summons on you? To verify that you are who you say you are?”
“I can share the memory of when we received the summons, but no. I do not have a physical copy.” Tal smiled, disgruntled.
“Then I must insist you wait here while I bring the news of your arrival to our Alpha. We have had some trouble with outsiders recently. I would not wish to harm you if you are speaking the truth. Could I learn your names? So that I can bring them to the Alpha?”
“I am Tal from Lartnek. This is Aira. She is a fellow werewolf and has come at my behest to help me on this journey.”
The werewolf nodded and gestured to a small clearing ahead full of moss-covered stumps. “Please, take your ease. I will return promptly.”
Tal groaned as he lowered himself onto one of the stumps, slamming his sword back into its sheath. Aira suppressed a smile and sat too, setting her crossbow on her lap and raising an eyebrow at Tal.
“Not quite the reception you were expecting?”
“No. I expected our missive had reached the Wolves far before we got here. We did walk most of the way. I hope it wasn’t intercepted.”
“Is there some group that wouldn’t want you to come?”
“Not that I’m aware. Can’t be too careful, though. And besides, if someone did intercept the messenger… well, who knows if they left him alive.”
Aira looked down. She hadn’t thought of that. The past few days she had been so wrapped up in her own survival, she really didn’t consider the survival of others. Before this week, she hadn’t really thought about needing to stay alive at all. That was a given. But now, on the run and this diplomatic mission, she was embroiled in more complicated situations than any other time in her entire life.
The leaves rustled behind her, and she whirled, bringing her crossbow up. How she had gotten to her feet, she could not remember, but now she was up and face to face with a young werewolf, wrapped in soft brown robes tied with a green sash.
“Aira. Settle.” Tal said gruffly, “I’m sorry, youngling.”
She shot Tal a glare, “What is he doing creeping around us?”
The werewolf bowed deeply, pressing his palms into his thighs, “I’m sorry if I have offended you, Warrior. I was curious about the visitors and came to see. I thought I might help with a tour if you are admitted.”
His speech was very formal and he kept his eyes averted, even after he rose. Aira frowned and looked at Tal, but he did not seem put off. In fact, he did not make direct eye contact with the boy either.
“Could we know your name? My name is Tal, and this is my traveling companion, Aira. She is a werewolf like yourself.”
“I am J’ander. I am pleased to make your acquaintance. Are you not a werewolf, Warrior Tal? You smell like one, but then again not.”
Tal smiled, “Only half. My mother was a werewolf. My father was a Draconian.”
“That would explain it. How long have you known Warrior Tal, Warrior Aira?” J’ander asked, turning back to Aira.
“A few days, now, I suppose.” she sat back down, crossing one leg over the other, ‘J’ander, why do you keep calling Tal and me, Warrior?”
He blinked, looking between them, “You carry weapons and you wear trousers. If the weapons didn’t mark you Warrior, your dress does. Is this not your way?”
“My trousers mark me as a warrior?” she looked at Tal. “No. No, in my city only men wear trousers and women usually wear dresses.”
“Are all of your men warriors? That seems a waste. Not all men are strong enough to fight and protect the Pack. Why would they all need trousers?” J’ander shook his head. “I do not understand. If a woman wants to protect the Pack, why should she have to wear a dress?”
Thankfully, the werewolf that had escorted them to the clearing returned just as she opened her mouth to try and answer J’ander. She really did not know how to explain to this youngling that in Nefti, women wore dresses and men trousers regardless of their occupation. It wasn’t job-related.
“Tal of Lartnek and Aira. The Alpha will see you now. J’ander, since you are here, please escort our guests to the Alpha’s tent. Then find yourself back at your chores. Your mothers will not be pleased to see you neglecting your duties.”
“Yes, Thane,” J’ander bowed again, “Please follow me. I will take you to the Alpha.”
To be continued...
I want to personally thank you for all the support you have gifted us over the last two years. We have grown exponentially and I am constantly amazed at how blessed we have been. As you can see by the blog title, we have some updates to share. As you have seen, if you follow us on Instagram and Facebook, we are now the media production company for Landmark Worship Center. What does that entail?
We have a main team that you will see more of as time goes on: myself (Alex Burchnell), Chris Burchnell, Christin Barrett, and David Bennett. Chris is our editor for this blog as well as Landmark's. He also helps with filming when needed. Christin and David are our main production crew when it comes to filming services, podcasts, etc. They also post daily discussions on Landmark's Facebook group.
What does this mean for our current partner program? Well, not much will change. We still accept guest blog posts, graphic designs, etc. The only requirement to be an official partner of QCFV would be to create and send in a piece at least once a month. If you cannot commit monthly you can still send in guest posts but we would not list you as a partner. We would simply have your information at the bottom of each post you send in.
If you are an existing partner this will apply to you as well. If you have questions, please email me at QueerChristianFamilyValues@gmail.com for further discussion. If we do not get a response of confirmation from you by May 15th we will remove you as a Partner with the ability to submit as a guest.
I look forward to building QCFV's ministry to promote the affirmation and inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals in the Christian faith.
Until next time,
Alexander (Alex) M. Burchnell
President/Owner of QCFV
Things have been stressful lately, have they not? I for one have had a time adjusting to being home 24/7. I am working from home now, of which I know is a privileged where many, including some on the QCFV team, aren't as lucky. We wanted to do something to give a glimmer of happiness in this dire time. We here at QCFV and Landmark Worship Center would like to announce a binder giveaway!
The rules are listed on the application posted below, but here is a summary: To enter you must be under the transgender umbrella, follow us on all social media, re-post the giveaway and tag us, and fill out the application in full. This giveaway was announced on our social media on April 2nd and the ability to apply is extended through May 2nd. If you apply after the closing date you will not be entered to win.
The binder can be of any type but we will be ordering from Underworks. Please know your size as we cannot assist with returns unless the fault is on Underworks.
We look forward to having more giveaways like this in the future!
Click this link to fill out the form!
Until next time,
Alexander (Alex) M. Burchnell
President/Owner of QCFV
My name is Tiffany. I am an MTF transgender and also a Christian. I am still trying to reconcile everything in my life but wanted to share my story about my journey and where I am at today.
I was born in the late ’60s in the NE United States. Our family was not very religious but had Catholic roots. We did attend church occasionally, mostly around Christmas and Easter or for other special occasions. I was baptized as an infant, though probably more out of tradition. I also made my first communion in the Catholic Church. As I got older and headed off to college, church was not a regular part of my life, although I still considered myself Catholic.
I also started to have thoughts and feelings when I was young about what it would be like to be female. I can’t recall exactly what age the feelings started, but I was quite young. I was not sure what to do and did not share this with anyone. The feelings would come and go and increased in intensity over time. At that time, things like transgender were not well known, talked about, or accepted, so I was not really sure what to do. At one point in my teen years I decided to try on some of my mother’s clothes when nobody was home, and it just felt right. Now I really did not know what to do about this. I would look at girls and sit and wonder what it would be like to be one of them; meanwhile, I just tried to be one of the guys and fit in because that was what society expected.
I thought maybe things would change over time, but they did not. I got married and had kids, but the feelings were still there. We did start to attend church more regularly, though, as a family. First the Catholic church; then we tried other various churches for a while before ending up at a Pentecostal church. It really felt like home and we became regular attendees. I then made a decision to start taking ministry classes and became an ordained minister within the church. I thought for sure this would change things, but it did not. The feelings were still there, and I was not sure what to do. Questions ran through my mind like, was God ok with this? Why did I feel like this? Is this right?
The real question came down to how to reconcile these feelings with the Christian faith. I did not ask to feel like this. I hoped these feelings would go away, but they did not. Maybe they would subside for weeks or months, but then they would come back. I just could not shake the desire to be female. Everything the church taught was that this was wrong. I prayed, but the thoughts and feelings persisted. I did not want to just justify them or interpret Scripture to fit my situation. I really want to follow God and His plan for my life.
So here is where I am at today. I do not believe this is a salvation issue. I know that I am a sinner and need to be redeemed. John 14:6 says: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This makes it clear that the only way to be saved is to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, which I have done. Once we begin to follow Jesus, we are still sinners, but we should strive to be more like Him. If you go back to Genesis 1, God created man and woman and it was good. It is also clear that He expected us to have natural relationships and offspring to populate the earth. But then the fall in the garden occurred. Our sinful nature was awakened. That does not justify sin, but just like sickness and illness, man was now corrupted. This is the only explanation I can come up with to explain why I am like I am. I did not choose to feel like this, and I can only assume that I was born this way. Not what God originally intended, but a result of the fall of man. This is where I am currently at but still seeking answers.
So, I have accepted who I am and am now working to deal with everything. It is very difficult to do on my own, as until recently I had not come out to any friends or family, and living a double life is also not easy. I finally decide to open up to my sister, and she was very understanding and supportive. She said that she loved me no matter what and is there for me. That means so much to me, and it is nice to now know that I do have some support.
I have reconciled to take things a day at a time and continue to pray and focus on God and allow Him to guide me. I just want to glorify Him and show others the love of Christ. I know I don’t have the answers and really have no choice but to just trust in Him. I just look forward to the day where I can openly be “me” and don’t have to hide anymore.
I know for some, being transgender today is just a fad or fetish. We definitely live in a different world today than when I was younger. But I also know for some it is real, and many are dealing with a similar situation as me. Some friends and family may be accepting, but others may not. I think you just need to assess your situation and make the appropriate choices which are not always easy. Being a Christian really helps though, as you can rely on God to help guide you. I have prayed and given everything to my loving Father. If you put your trust in Him, He will not let you down!
The Oh Hellos: Striving to create better art for the Christian Community
Ever since I was little, I don’t remember ever loving Christian music at any point in my life. Or, at least, not the music they commonly play in church. Hillsong Music, Bethel Music, Elevation Worship, or any of the other popular worship songs had never touched me the way some other songs could. I would always linger in the back of the room, dazing off, wishing we could skip ahead to the service. And now that I’m getting older, this strikes me as odd. Because I LOVE music. Each song created a new world for me visually. Each song had its appeal. Owl City with its fanciful technological sounds, Pentatonix with its distinct vocality, Twenty One Pilots with its almost depressing yet hopeful aesthetic. But there was something about the worship music that never “lit me on fire” like the songs said they would. Eventually, I learned to tune it out and ponder what I would do in the coming week.
Now, eventually, as I got older, I began finding Christian music that I enjoyed, like TobyMac, Jamie Grace and Hollyn. (None of whom usually play during worship service.) But it still struck me as strange I didn’t like any of the music at the worship service. Now, in part, it is a personal thing, since until now I had always struggled to make my relationship to Christ personal. This compounded with my overall different worship style makes traditional worship for me annoying, but that didn’t stop me from liking the music from the above artists. So what is it? Is it simply personal taste, or is there something about traditional worship music that needs changing?
Well, truthfully, a bit of both. I know people who love traditional worship music, and that’s fine. Sometimes it comes down to personal taste. As I mentioned before, my worship style is different and comprises listening to Christian podcasts while drawing, or taking in the sunny day or city-scape around me while enjoying some Owl City or TobyMac. Some people feel moved by traditional church songs. It gets them through tough times and helps them feel connected with God. But the sameness of our worship songs showed a seemingly small problem that goes unnoticed by most unless they have a keen eye for art.
As an artist, specifically a Christian one, I wanted to know why I didn’t like the worship music in church. Was there more to it than my differing worship style? So I looked into it—and discovered there were others like me. People who felt dissatisfied with the Christian content that was being presented. Not just the music, but the movies and the TV shows. It all felt—bland, samey, and uninspired. Most Christian movies even have the same plot. A family goes through tough times, and right when they least expect it, God shows up and fixes it. You may think, “Spirit, aren’t you being picky? It’s just a movie!” And, yeah, you’re right. I’m being picky. In fact, I’ve gotten into many an argument with my dad about being too picky regarding the newest “Star Wars” movies.
But being picky—criticizing the movies we love, are what push people to move forward. If fans hadn’t been picky, Paramount Pictures never would have redesigned the character for Sonic in the 2020 Sonic movie. And I’ll be the first one to say the original design was bad. If fans hadn’t been picky, Sony Animation would have never changed their movie lineup to movies that now exceed The Emoji Movie, which was also terrible.
I will point out—there is a big difference between politely criticizing and harassing someone because you didn’t like the film or song or animation. But I digress. The point is, most mass consumers aren’t thinking about the quality of the content they consume. They take their kid to see a colorful movie to distract them for a bit. They listen to songs because the beat is catchy. They watch a show because it’s cheesy. There isn’t a problem with just enjoying something because it’s bad and cheesy, or because it’s nostalgic rather than good. But this is producing a problem that is becoming more and more common. Media that is fueled off of being nostalgic and making you feel good, rather than making you think or even doing both.
Markets are becoming oversaturated with just mediocre content rather than movies and TV shows that are amazing and awe-inspiring. I’ll be the first to admit, this isn’t that big of a deal in the long run. Subjectively bad movies can impact just as much as subjectively good ones, not to mention that everything is, after all, subjective. But it still is good for everyone to ask for objectively better movies.
Fiction, especially good fiction, is one way we digest the world and evaluate ourselves, our situation, others, and life. And having mediocre fiction that doesn’t accurately reflect our situation means we lose a critical lens we have in our world. Good fiction is good when it has diversity, relatable characters, and accurate portrayals of real issues in the world. Good fiction allows us to experience the world from the eyes of others. A major example of the inverse happening is when the movie Split released, which portrayed a person with schizophrenia/dissociative identity disorder as a mentally unstable murderer and kidnapper, leaving people like DissociaDID to combat the stigmas left behind by these films in YouTube videos.
This dilemma regarding mediocre media is something you can see throughout TV, film, music, and novels, throughout secular media (like Disney’s constant releasing of live-action remakes, and Illumination Animation’s unwillingness to take risks with their films anymore although their first blockbuster, Despicable Me, was a risk) and in Christian media, specifically movies and music. In fact, to showcase this point, a YouTube channel run by two Christian brothers put this to the test by teaching their viewers how to write a worship song in 5 minutes or less.
The constant evolution of media always grows stagnant eventually, running out of ideas until a younger generation grows into the old creative positions, sharing their own life stories, but it seems more common with Christian media. One of my favorite video essays by Josh Keefe on YouTube details it better than I can, saying, “I found it incredibly ironic that music made from a group of people who believe in a limitless and creative God only reflected what was being done in the pop industry.”
However, there are still people trying to push the boundaries of content creation, secular and Christian. Into the Spider-Verse set a new standard of animation and storytelling in 2018. Rian Johnson tested the limits of fandom and rewriting old stories with The Last Jedi in 2018. Rebecca Sugar began a shock-wave of queer inclusion with her groundbreaking show, Steven Universe as early as 2016.
Indie and Alternative bands have also begun making rounds in popularity, including AJR, and a newer and smaller band named The Oh Hellos. You may have heard one of their older songs around Tik Tok or YouTube called “Soldier, Poet, King”.
While they are still relatively small, only having around 52,000 subscribers and six albums, their music has impacted many so far and is leading a tiny revolution in changing the way we think of Christian music. Like the Dawn describes a poetic version of the creation story, intertwining scripture in a way that calls back to its original roots of being stories passed down from family to family in the Hebrew tradition. The album Dear Wormwood takes inspiration from C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, having characters, both real and fictitious, test past relationships and break them off in an almost letter format through the point of view of the main characters.
And yet, we still have to talk about their current series of EP’s, Notos and Eurus, music which is both beautiful, and causes one to stop and introspect regarding their own behavior towards others, reminding us to make sure we don’t “keep that old wheel turning.”
“How does this relate to Christian media?” you may ask, and the answer is complicated. Perhaps just as complicated as the themes presented in these two EP’s. The short answer is that this small band has been pushing the fronts of Christian music in a way that is both creative and thought-provoking. They intertwine relevant themes in their songs, themes that tie in with the state of modern content creation, and our current political climate in a world rampant with fear and pain.
Over these next four to five months, I would like to write a series of essays examining the themes of the work of Tyler and Maggie Heath as we look at the albums Notos and Eurus, tying the themes back to modern day violence, hatred & bigotry, and learning how to move past that as queers, Christians, and everyone in between. And while we’re at it, we’ll take a brief look at the current state of music and media across both secular and religious categories and see what we can do to move past it.
Disclaimer: I in no way claim to be an expert in any of these subjects regarding media and movies and am just a teenager sharing things I have noticed and observed. As for the meanings behind what Eurus and Notos mean, I can only speculate. I mostly am using the website Genius Lyrics. I will also link additional websites and articles as I use them. Regarding the people making the music and films, while I may talk about them in a negative light, I in no way mean to offend or bash the creators or anyone who may enjoy these media pieces. I want to encourage thoughtful conversation around the media we consume.
With that being said, I will aim to release 1 essay a month, with the first two being actual analysis, and then leaving space for the last three to be essays tying all the themes together.
A big thanks to Alex for allowing me to post this on his website since I don’t have one of my own, and I would like to thank you for reading this! I think fiction and art are very important to how humans interact with the world and each other, and I think this is something we should realize. Being okay with having only okay movies will give us okay results, and I’ve seen what people in the arts can produce. With that being said, in even the worst of movies, it’s possible to find even the smallest of things to enjoy! Split saw an excellent actor in James McAvoy, Disney has been pushing technological boundaries with their live action movies, and Christian movies and music are great to check out if you’re just needing an emotional pick-me-up! Remember to always see the bright side, especially in today’s cruel world. Criticise with caution and try not to hurt others or be aggressive. Even in genuine commentaries like this one hopefully was, it’s important to highlight the positive! So have a good day, and be the best human you can be!
The blast from Aira’s hand met a light blue shield that sprang up around three armed creatures. One looked human, rounded ears and no fangs showing in his bared teeth. She had made the shield and was clearly able to use Dayforce. The other two appeared to be werecats, both nearly a head shorter than the human with pointed ears and narrow fangs. They wielded short swords, and the human brandished a one-handed crossbow as she maintained her Dayforce shield.
Aira screamed and stumbled back into Tal. She had no weapons other than her Nightforce and, despite her accomplishment at the fire that morning, she was not very strong. What would she be able to do against steel?
Tal placed one hand on Aira’s shoulder and gently pushed her behind him, extending his other hand to the woman with the shield, “Good evening. May I ask what business you have here? With us?”
The woman snarled at his hand and pulled the trigger on her crossbow. The bolt shot at Tal’s face, and Aira opened her mouth to scream again when suddenly the bolt stopped inches from Tal. He flicked his fingers, and the bolt flew straight at a tree to his left. Then he motioned toward himself, and the crossbow shook in her hand for a moment before flying into Tal’s hand. He looked at it curiously.
“Is this one of the new automatic crossbows? It reloads after firing?” He turned it in his hands, “I do believe it is! Smart!” He set it down and placed one foot on it before crossing his arms. “Now. Shall we begin again? Good evening. What business do you have here?”
The woman’s mouth worked soundlessly, and she drew a long dagger from her belt before rushing at Tal and Aira. The werecats looked at each other and shrugged, dropping down onto their haunches, holding their swords loosely in their hands. Tal shook his head and glanced back at Aira, rolling his eyes.
“Madam,” he said as he shot his hand forward, freezing her in place, “This is an exercise in futility. I don’t know how you don’t seem to realize who you are dealing with, but I am no easy prey for you to ambush and steal from if that is your intention. I would like to have a proper conversation with you to ascertain what you want rather than stealing that information from your mind, which I could do very easily. I shall give you one last chance to speak with me, or I shall send you on your way. You shall not leave happy, I guarantee it.”
The woman growled under her breath and then finally sighed, “I don’t have business with you! I have business with that werewolf behind ya!”
Tal narrowed his eyes, “What business?”
“Bounty business! Her face is broadcasted from here, Naidow to Nefti to Lartnek even. Nefti guards’ll pay good money to get her back.”
“I see.” Tal’s eyes flicked to Aira, and she felt her heart flutter.
“You hand her over, and I’ll see you get paid, dragon,” the woman said.
“Will you now? And if I don’t? What will you do then?”
“I’ll sic Ban and Thad on you!” she seemed to struggle to move, but however Tal held her would not let her budge.
“Just as you shot me with a crossbow?” Tal tapped the weapon with his foot.
Her mouth opened to retort, and then she closed it, scowling.
“No, I shall not hand over Aira, to you or any guard of Nefti. She is an ambassador on a diplomatic mission with me and is too crucial to just let go. Instead, I shall give you a choice. You may try and take her from me, or you will run away and not bother us again. Choose wisely. If you choose poorly, you shall regret it.”
Aira looked up at his face in wonder. He looked patient, his mouth held in a small smile, but his eyes were slightly narrowed, and if she just looked at them, he looked angry. Was he angry on her behalf? She had worried he might have turned her over to the bounty hunters, but instead, he seemed willing to fight for her. She shook her head in amazement.
“Alright! I will let you go now and count to five. If you are not out of eyesight by then, I will assume you are going to fight, and I swear you will end up far worse for wear! Ready?” He lowered his hand, and she nearly fell to the ground, now unsupported by Tal’s telekinesis. “One, two…”
The two werecats fled as soon as his hand lowered, the woman bounding after them before Tal had counted to three. He laughed as they darted out of sight and bent to pick up the crossbow. “Wait,” he said softly, “You forgot this.”
Chuckling, he turned to Aira and handed her the crossbow, “Here, a souvenir for your first life-harrowing adventure with Tal!”
She took it and frowned, “What? Shouldn’t we leave it so she can get it?’
“I’m sure she can find a new one. Besides, she was going to kill me with it. Such a smart weapon should only be used in self-defense or in defense of someone’s life, I think. Why don’t you use it? It looks like it has ten bolts preloaded already, and I can show you how to make more later if necessary. Grab the one in the tree, and let’s go. We should camp soon.”
Aira grabbed the bolt he had sent into the tree and stared after the strange half-dragon. Every moment she spent with him made her more and more confused. For one thing, he was so cavalier in the face of dangerous situations, and for another, he just accepted her the way she was and had just risked his life for her. Perhaps this Nailan person had something to do with it. He had helped her across the river to escape the soldiers, and then this Tal person appeared. Maybe. She hung the crossbow on her belt and trotted after Tal. She was going to have to think very hard about all of this.
Meet the author
C.F. is a math teacher in the northeast Ohio area. She enjoys reading, writing and drawing when she isn't playing games (video or tabletop) with friends and family. She has two dogs (a lab and a husky mix) and a partner who accepted her bisexuality before she did herself!
You read the title right! I am getting surgery on March 17th! I am both relieved and nervous. I have so many emotions happening right now. I am ready to never have to bind again, but I'm also nervous about going under. I want it all to work out. I know God will get me through, but I can't help but have anxiety about it all.
Recently I have had several people donate to my fundraiser so that I don't have to worry about expenses as much post-op. I can't think you all enough! You have no idea how much this means to me. I hope that one day I am in a position to help people get surgery. If QCFV takes off, I'd love to start a surgery fund. I want to help as many people as we can.
I finally called pre-registration with the hospital that I'll be having my procedure at. The first time I called I just googled the number for the hospital and was transferred twice. Then I got in touch with a billing person who said they don't set up any payment plans since this is a plastic surgery appointment. I told the lady that Chris, my husband, had his surgery there through the same doctor and they set one up. She says well your doctor should know we don't do that. Rude. So I look at the email that my surgeon sent over and it had a different number to call. I spoke with a nice guy who took my information to get me into the system. He didn't ask for money but said a financial adviser would call later on and set up a payment arrangement. That, ladies and gents and non-binaries, is why reading all the instructions is important! I feel a bit relieved after I spoke to someone, and it's getting super real. I still need to call metLife, who will be covering my time off from work. I am a huge procrastinator. Ugh!
If you or anyone you know would like to talk about their surgery experience or just has questions, then comment below or shoot an email over to QueerChristianFamilyValues@Gmail.com and I'll get back to you ASAP.
I guess I should go get some work done. See ya in the next one!
-Alexander M. BUrchnell
Edited by Christopher J. Burchnell
The Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the core of the New Testament, which is the foundation of Christianity. We Christians believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament based on the covenant that God sent his son to spread the word, or "good news", and the promise of eternal life. Out of the four gospels, most claim Matthew is the oldest; however, that spot goes to Mark. It has been dated anywhere from the 70's to the mid 80's of the first century. The way Mark arranges the story of Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection is the main reason I count it as my favorite. But who wrote Mark?
CrossExamined.org had a similar question in mind when they wrote a piece reviewing various theories, of which can be found here. The traditional view is that the gospel was written by John Mark who transcribed the teachings of Simon Peter. John Mark is said to be the son of a window named Mary, as seen in Acts 12:12-17). The Bible doesn't give much away as to the author's identity, but there are several traits to the gospel of Mark one could decipher from. Mark is fast paced, focuses on the humanity of Christ, writes with a Latin audience in mind, references Rome, focuses on Peter quite a bit, emphasizes the Messianic Secret, and tells of an unknown man. The unknown man mentioned in Mark 14:51-52 was a strange incident depicting the Garden of Gethsemane. The man is caught when Jesus was arrested and escaped Roman guards but lost his clothing in the scuffle. Many believe this man is the author of Mark!
Now, something I enjoyed about our sourced article mentioned above is that they also looked at the external evidence. They mentioned a quote from the early church who was unanimous in their belief that John Mark was the author stating,
“And the presbyter said this. Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities [of his hearers], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord’s sayings. Wherefore Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For of one thing he took especial care, not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictitious into the statements.” - Papias of Hierapolis (A.D. 60-130)
Papias was a Greek Apostolic Father and Bishop of Hierapolis (modern Pamukkale, Turkey) as noted from GotQuestions.org. He authored the Expostion of the Sayings of the Lord in five books. This piece's purpose was to present an accurate record of the teaching and works of the apostles as reported to him by "John the Elder" aka the Apostle John. Irenaeus (A.D. 130-200) also confers with Papias stating,
“After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter.”
Irenaeus was a Greek Bishop who is best known for his role in guiding and expanding the Christian communities into the south of France, especially the theology.
If we are to take from Irenaeus' statement, "after their departure", to mean Peter's execution, then Mark was written in the mid to late 60's A.D, but possibly as early as 50 A.D. But what is clear, the gospel was written while the author was still in Rome, which was the audience of the time period. The sourced article by CrossExamined.org conclusion is something I agree with:
"From the evidences considered, John Mark is the only clear candidate for the Second Gospel. While John Mark was not a primary witness of the life of Jesus of Nazareth and while he does not necessarily record the events of Jesus’s life in chronological order, he does act as a scribe, or amanuensis, to Peter whom Jesus knew and selected to be an inner circle disciple. We have a great testimony preserved for us in the Second Gospel. I believe we truly have the eyewitness accounts of Simon Peter documented for us by his good friend John Mark."
I truly enjoyed researching this topic and would like to do something similar in the future. If you have any suggestions on my next subject, then let us know in the comments or send us an email at QueerChristianFamilyValues@Gmail.com.
See ya in the next one!
Written by Alexander M. Burchnell
Edited by Christopher J. Burchnell