The Origin of the Habitable Zone


The Origin of the Habitable Zone


the exoplanet Proxima Centauri b. Credit: ESO, M. KORNMESSER

the exoplanet Proxima Centauri b. Credit: ESO, M. KORNMESSER

Behold and look attentively upon…


Ten years. That is what it takes. It takes ten years to travel to Alpha Centauri’s Proxima b at 45% light speed in a Bema Nano StarCraft. Of course, one goes to an exoplanet to get away. And that is what my father did twenty years ago after my mother passed. For the last ten years Proxima b’s Decider Colony – the settlement was named Decider Colony by my dad after he declared, “Once you have decided to come you don’t look back” – has provided research data and food and shelter for those who are completing their “bucket list”.

Dad joined the first eXoCrew to Alpha Centauri AB as a researcher. The crew, deployed with detectors specifically tuned to wavelengths corresponding to molecules found in earth’s atmosphere such as water, methane, oxygen and ozone, found these elements in comparable amounts on Proxima b, a planet slightly larger than earth and which orbits in the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri. When the crew also found nothing that would disrupt the equilibrium of the habitable zone they set about terraforming.

When dad said his goodbyes I asked him if he would be lonely on Proxima. He answered, “I have my research and my smokes. Maybe, when I am happy again, I’ll be lonely. Finish your doctorate, Penny, and then join me.” Dad hugged me, kissed my forehead and then drove off.

After submitting my dissertation, “The 21st Century Religion of Climate Change:  Oracles, Inquisition, Denier Extirpation and Crusades,” I needed to get away, far away, as I was no longer welcome at home. A tenure-track faculty position would not be in the offing and I could not see myself teaching anyway. So, I applied to the Interplanetary Research and Terraforming Inaugurating Consortium (IRTIC) for the position of Lead Argo-Chemist on the Centauri Project Team. My application was processed overnight.

I received my commission to go to Proxima b the next day. I was told that I would go as a settler-researcher, just as my father had done ten years earlier with IRTIC. I was glad. Now I could go where I would feel welcome. In Chicago, I was all alone. My mom died when I was six. Dad was the only family I had left. Friends, you ask? There is Ruth of Ruth’s Restaurant and Refinery. She knew my mother. Ruth met mom when Ruth came to Chicago on a business trip. So, my journey to Proxima will be a sort of coming home.

When you travel for ten years you have plenty of time to study. I studied Proxima b and found out that the exoplanet is about seven million kilometers from its star, Proxima Centauri. Its orbit is twenty-one times smaller than earth’s orbit. This has Proxima sitting on its star’s doorstep. Any solar hiccups, flares, or coronal mass ejections are likely to hit Proxima b head on. Settler beware!

I also exercised every day for ten years. Living in a micro-g environment impacts the body in three ways: loss of position-movement sensation – you don’t know what your limbs are up to, changes in fluid distribution, and deterioration of the musculoskeletal system. Space traveler beware!

On Proxima b one has to get used to the fact there is no night and day. Light and dark are locational. So, you must to travel back and forth, light side, dark side, light side, dark side… to simulate earth’s 24-hour cycle. And, get ready for this:  The planet is so close to its red dwarf host star that it is tidally locked into an orbital eccentricity of 0. This means that one side of Proxima constantly faces the host star, a red dwarf sun, a blazing orb that looks huge in the sky and is exceedingly hot. The other side – the star side – is dark and cold to the other extreme. Along the terminator line, between light and dark, hot and cold, lies a moderate zone where Decider Colony is. One good thing: under the zone’s constant cloud cover, Proxima b retains water. One bad thing: I do too.


Once on Alpha Centauri’s Proxima b I headed to my dad’s cabin near the Tuomi Ocean. Tuomi is just three clicks off of Limbo Line Highway and only 1.295762111 parsecs from my home on the west side of Chicago, in case you wanted to know. Not far from my dad’s cabin is Charis City the home of Ruth’s flagship restaurant.

The colony and the cabin are just over on the dark side of Proxima b since no one could handle the extreme light or heat on the star side. For our light and power, wind turbines provide electrical energy. Fierce stellar winds blowing across the ubiquitous mountain ranges propel the turbines.

Proxima is a jagged, rocky place.  The kind of place you read about in science fiction or see in space movies. I brought my repelling gear for climbing when I’m not walking on star dust at the beach.  The cabin is within a narrow cove surrounded by the Nearing Cliffs. It is protected from the ferocious winds, which howl across the tops of the cliffs a mile above sounding like a thousand wolves in chorus.

Dad, a hobby fisherman, uses VR goggles to go fishing on Tuomi Ocean. When he wrote to me years ago he told me that he has a hologram of a fish he caught in his library. He also told me that he had plenty cans of reconstituted fish in the kitchen. I made it clear to dad that I would prefer to eat at Ruth’s Restaurant and Refinery where the food is superb and fresh.

How is it possible on Proxima b to offer fresh meals? Only Ruth knows and she will only say that she is thankful that she can. And, another thing I wonder about.  Some say that Ruth has been here forever. When asked about this she tells them, “I’ve been here as long as I can remember.” All I know is that if her restaurant here on Proxima b is like the one at home in Chicago, then there will be a sign above her cash register which offers, “Ask about our daily special.”


When I arrived at the cabin Dad was very happy to see me but above his smile was a look of sadness in his eyes. A couple of nights later I looked out the front door and saw dad sitting on the front porch step. He was staring at the burning point of his cigarette.

“Penny, come out on the porch and join me.”

I sat down next to dad.

“Wow, look at those stars, dad. They talk about light pollution on earth.  Chicago has so many lights you can’t see stars.”

“Yeah, I remember.”  This”, dad pointed to the sky, “is one of eleven panoramas. One year on Proxima is eleven days, so the night sky changes every day.”

“Whoa, age before beauty, here.”

I could see dad smile.

“What were you thinking about just now, dad?”

Dad flicked his cigarette and took a deep breath, “Well, when I was younger I would look at the night sky just like tonight. I would imagine myself as a meteor, blazing across the sky, every atom in me a magnificent glow and that would someday I burn out in a ball of fire. I did not want to be snuffed out by dry-rot existence. I wanted my end to ashes and not accumulated dust. That’s one reason why I came to Proxima. But, there is something I haven’t told you that I’m not proud of.

Back home I was asked to change some data – climate data. I was told that I was a rising star in the scientific community and that I would receive tenure if I papers concurred with my university peers. I saw no harm in doing it. I figured the change would just make people concerned about the environment. And, with tenure I could afford your education at the university.

Well, about a six months later, I was asked again to change another set of numbers. I did and then I received tenure just like they said I would. I was young. My attitude was “Either you are virtuous or you enjoy yourself but you can’t be both.”

But then the bribes started coming. I said no and kept saying no but the pressure was incredible. They showed up at the house. They threatened to hurt your mother if I didn’t agree.  Then…I don’t if I should call it fate or bad luck or…It was during that time your mother came down with cancer.  So I saw my chance to leave the university and the whole mess. I stayed home with her till the end.  After that I joined IRTIC hoping for a chance to leave all this behind.”

“Wow. I don’t know what to say. I could have used your experience in my dissertation.  Anyway, I’m glad we are together and all that is behind you.

“When you get piled on, you just shrug it off and move on,” Dad put out his cigarette, thought for a second and then turned to Penny

“When I die, Penny, I hope to go to a better place–whatever that is–and I want to be able to afford the price of admission.”

“What you need right now, dad, is a piece of cherry pie.  C’mon dad, let’s go to Ruth’s for lunch.”

“No thanks. Not interested.”

“Why?  The food is good.”

“Meh. My parents took me to one of Ruth’s restaurants a long time ago. I didn’t like the food and the place gave me the creeps.  Later, your mother took me there once. I found out I couldn’t smoke inside – the manager told me to go outside. After that everything I tasted there was bland. And, what’s with that sign she has hanging everywhere –“Spreading life and beauty throughout the universe? There is no beauty ‘cept these stars and I see tooth and claw in them too.”

“I’ve wondered about that sign myself.  Let’s go ask about it.”

“No thanks. I’d rather eat my own food then go and pay for something I don’t like.”

“I’ll buy dad.”

“No thanks kid. I’m old and set in my ways. You go and have fun. I have some fish to catch.”


I poked my head inside the restaurant door. “Hi Ruth, how’s things at Ruth’s Restaurant?”

“Come in and see, Penny. Would you like some Black Tea?”

“Yes. And, I’ll have the salad with Green Pastures Dressing.”

“Coming right up.”

Ruth returned and placed the tea cup in front of me. She poured the fragrant tea.

I looked up, “I am still getting used to the idea that plant life on Proxima is black and not green.”

“All my customers say that but they come back for more. The dressing helps them get it down.”

“I’m going to bring some home to my father.”

“Do you think he’ll like it? I haven’t seen him around here.”

“Yeah, well, I’ve tried to get him to come. Oh, and he wanted to know what that meant.”  Penny pointed to the sign over the kitchen.

Spreading life and beauty throughout the universe? Why that means exactly what it says. You see, I am not only a chef and a restaurateur. I am an artist, too. I create collages out of things which had former value. I reclaim broken and discarded things, rework them and make them into works of art. And, I have my refinery. I refine rare precious metals found on the seven exoplanets. Those seven planet ores are not found on earth. When refined they make the most excellent necklaces, rings, bracelets and even crowns. “


“Why yes. I have seven planets and I have appointed seven kings. I made a crown for each one.”

I looked around. “I don’t see any collages or crowns.”

“Wait one second.” Ruth left and returned with a bottle of red wine and a glass. “Here, this is my house red. Take a sip.” Ruth poured the wine.

I held the wine glass up to the light. The dark ruby-red wine had a mineral aroma that reminded me not of a flavor but of a time. What was that memory? I drank it down. It was warm in my throat.

“What do you see now?”

“I…I see collages, of people… made of collages and their eyes are like jeweled sunlight!”

I saw that all the faces in the restaurant were turned towards Ruth.

I looked up at Ruth. “I need to sit down.”

“Penny, you are sitting. Now, I’ve also been known to refine people’s taste buds.” Ruth smiled. “So, eat up.”


I came home not sure what I had just seen and desperately wanting to tell my father about it. But dad was not around. His bedroom was empty. I checked the kitchen. Empty fish tins lay in the sink.  The fish smell was so pungent that I threw the tins in the garbage, put the lid on and lit a candle. It was confirmed. Dad doesn’t smell things anymore.

Dad’s library door was always closed. I had never been in there. I knocked and there was no answer. So I entered.  What I saw could be described as a “Hemmingway hangout.” On a credenza was a hologram of dad’s favorite fish – the walleye. On the lamp table next to his reading chair was a worn copy of Jack London’s Call of the Wild and an open copy of Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species. A half-gone bottle of thirty-year-old scotch was on a shelf behind the desk along with a framed picture of mom and a mug from Last Ounce Bar and Grill. On his desk were an ash tray, several photographs of Ana Nill, dad’ girlfriend on Proxima and his VR goggles. Dad wouldn’t have gone fishing without his VR goggles.

I turned around. On the wall above the shelf was a framed quote.

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.” ― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

I left the library not sure what I had just seen and desperately wanting to ask my father about it.

The front door banged open. In stumbled Ana with dad under her arm. Dad was shivering uncontrollably.

“What happened?

“The boat capsized. It shouldn’t have happened.” Dad’s teeth chattered as he spoke.

“You could have gotten hypothermia, dad.”

“I’m good at this. It shouldn’t have happened.” Dad fell to the floor.


After dad’s accident, the day finally came, two weeks later in fact, when dad relented and agreed to come to Ruth’s restaurant.  Dad, angrier over the accident than concerned for his own safety came to see that something had to change…. with a lot of my pleading.


Ruth’s Restaurant and Refinery on Proxima b is unlike anything else in the universe. When you arrive the first thing you notice is a large cornerstone made of Substantium, an element found in only one place in the universe – you can guess where. It sits at the right hand corner foundation of the restaurant. Emitted out of its four sides and at right angles are red lasers – coherent light beams. The four perpendicular lasers provide direction plots of the universe like four surveyor’s transit theodolites. And when those on a space quest comes across one of the four laser beams he or she will know how to find the Origin of the Habitable Zone, so I’m told.

And I am also told that at the opposite corner of the square building are several more laser lights. Three beams are directed toward the night sky. The color of the three beams change within a visible spectrum as if in rhythm to some ancient song. The beams, though infinite in their trajectory, also appear to hover in an ever-widening circle. The corner’s other stream of monochromatic coherent light is directed toward Ruth’s metal working refinery directly behind the restaurant. There, the refocused light is used to work precious metals.


“Welcome. I have a booth for you over here.” Ruth led us over to a sky booth.

There are no windows in the walls of Ruth’s Restaurant but there is a vast skywindow above the booths and tables. The candlelit room feels like it is slowly moving but that feeling is due to Proxima’s eleven-day-year rotation of constellations.  Three lights, those three lights, dance in front of the stellar panorama. We are eating in an observatory.

I asked, for my dad, “Ruth, did you know my mom?’

“Yes. She came to my Chicago restaurant often. She spoke of both of you.” Ruth sat down across from dad and poured him some wine.

I was soon surprised. I heard dad tell Ruth what he had told me on the porch one night.

“I was wrong to fudge those numbers. I didn’t have 4.6 billion years of data to review. And I wasn’t sure where the supplied temperature data came from, if it was reliable. I was told to use the data and that it would likely fit the profile of adverse climate change due to CO2.”

“Then I’d come home every night feeling like more and more of me was being negated. I couldn’t tell your mother, Penny, out of fear of government reprisals. But later I had to.” Dad dropped his head. “Your mom, waiting for me to come home every night, watched TV. I would come in the door and find her very agitated and concerned about what she was seeing. I soon found why when I was forced to attend the Interfaith Theosophist Climate Conference in Paris.”

“There I learned that the state controlled Climate Channel ran ITCC approved videos of weather catastrophes in order to frighten people into embracing environmental justice. The conference speakers, of course, never used the words “frighten or alarm.” They used “motivate and encourage.” The 24/7 programming ran Viral Weather –special effects video of ice melting and seas rising, floods destroying homes, displaced-looking polar bears, erosion and mud slides, on and on. And all the disasters would be connected to anthropological causation. Viral Weather never showed pastoral scenes or farmland with crops or any of the life-sustaining effects of CO2. And Global Cable never showed on any channel the hellish wars on earth that were started over global climate control.”

Ruth lifted dad’s head. “Following the Time of Enlightenment men began to put function before form, utilitarianism over being. The objective “what” was given preeminence over the subjective “why.” Later, many people rejected life expressed without significance. Some looked to nature and the protection of the environment for the “why” of their lives, to fulfill their need for meaning. Soon, though, their well-intentioned drive to reclaim what was lost converted into a religion with a “save the planet” mission and a Malthusian dogma when impassioned demands for certain outcomes were met with resistance. In turn, any dis-belief in climate change was met with hostility by the environmentalists.”

“A coordinated global crusade was begun by the environmentalists, who became collectively known as New Age Dominionists. The Dominionists campaigned to have the environment legally protected from mankind. Under their influence nation states passed laws and the UN passed resolutions that made humans – their methods, their mechanisms and their manufacturing – subject to nature. Of course this meant that humans would become subject to data and again to the “what” in order to stop Global Climate Change.”

“The situation on earth is now dire. In the last ten years meaningless climate data had been fed into quantum computers. The quantum computers fed AI into Malthus Qubots and Malthus Qubot AI became a singularity. After that the Malthus Qubots unleashed themselves to destroy mankind in order to save the planet.”

Ruth put her hand on dad’s. “Now, my Proximinian ears perk up when I hear the truth and I heard you tell the truth just now. Yes, you were wrong. The people of Earth need truth.  Worthless data will always be behind man’s desire to reduce everything to an interplay of power and resources. When the Qubots with their AI singularity took over earth they only saw matter to be mastered. Man had relinquished everything of value to obtain control of air or vanity, as we say here on Proxima b. Nothingness will destroy everything in its path if you let it. And now, not for nothing, I forgive you.”

At that moment two guys from the next booth came over to our booth. They wore dark suits with cardinal red SSICCA insignias. They were from the Secular See Interstellar Climate Control Authority.

The taller man with a patch over one eye started. “We heard what you said. You are coming with us. You will face trial on your way back to earth. A special Qubot tribunal has been appointed to punish deniers and flagrant violators of Environmental Justice.”

“I…I left earth and came to Proxima b so that I wouldn’t li…so that I wouldn’t say what I couldn’t.”

The sweaty and squat bald agent pulled on dad’s arm.  “Get up. You have some papers we need you to write.”

Ruth placed herself head-on between the agents and dad.

“This is my place. You have no jurisdiction in here. You’ve had your meal now go.”

“We’ll be waiting right outside.” The two men sneered at dad and then walked out the door.

“I guess this is goodbye Penny.”

“Hold on.” Ruth turned and walked over to another table.

Dad turned to me. “Sorry kid. My past has caught up with me. It looks like the meteor has become a wad of paper.”

Ruth returned to the table. Dad looked up.

“Penny says that your food is the best. I should have come here sooner.”

“Well, come back tomorrow then.”

“You know I can’t. Those two goons are going to cart me off forever.”

“No they won’t. I talked to the seven princes of the seven planets.” Ruth pointed to a table where seven men were sitting. “They are the Society Against Nihilistic Causation Terrestrial Authority (SANCTA). They will escort those two to the East-West Mining Company’s automated starship, the Tierra del Fuego, where they will be put to work feeding coal into a blast furnace. The mining barge goes back and forth throughout an alternate universe smelting ore deposits it finds. They will be busy for a long time.”

“Oh, thank you Ruth.” My dad fell to his knees. He clung to Ruth crying.

Ruth lifted him up, gave him a hug and then handed him a signet ring. “Here is your new identity. Safeguard it.”

Dad looked at the ring. Engraved on its face was a name in Proximanian, one he couldn’t pronounce.

“And, I want you to join SANCTA. Here, you will need these goggles.”

“What is this? I have VR goggles.”

“These are UR goggles – Ultimate Reality goggles. You’ll see better when you go fishing.”

Dad fell back into the booth limp.

“You look exhausted.” Ruth motioned to a waiter, “Bring them some warm bread. I will bring the wine. It’s time to celebrate. You two won’t need these menus.” Ruth picked them up. “ You’d like the special of the day.”

“Ruth, what is the special of the day?” dad asked.

“I’ve already paid for your meal.”






©Sally Paradise, 2016, All Rights Reserved

Don’t Lose Your Saltiness to Soros


If we believe that the Kingdom of God is here and now then we make choices which reflect that understanding. To help you make Kingdom choices here is something I found walking around on Resurrection ground: “An Open Letter to Christian pastors, leaders and believers who assist the anti-Christian Progressive political movement in America.”




A Call to Repentance & Renewal

An Open Letter to Christian pastors, leaders and believers 

who assist the anti-Christian Progressive political movement in America


Quotes from the “Letter”:

“As recent leaked documents confirm, and as Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners eventually admitted, wealthy, anti-Christian foundations, following the lead of billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, fund and “rent”* Christian ministers as “mascots” serving as surprising validators for their causes. The consequent realities include injury to countless people, the Church, the family, nation and the global Church including many martyrs.”

“We are not here endorsing or denouncing a political candidate but reminding you of basic Christian morality. How ironic, stale and shameless for the very leaders whose ‘progressive’ policies are hurting minority communities to falsely label those with political differences as ‘racists.’ Under liberal leadership, Hispanics and African-Americans suffer the loss of work and income, rising urban violence and family disintegration including children targeted by abortionists for death. It’s time to tell the truth and rebuild together.”

“For many years, Soros’s Open Society and other liberal foundations have funded not only most of the disturbing campaigns mentioned above (1-10) but also the Religious Left, using and creating ostensibly evangelical and Catholic organizations to “message and mobilize” Christians into Progressive causes. They use the Marxist-Alinsky tactic of funding “ministers” who cherry-pick faith language to confuse and divide the Church’s morality, mission and vote.


At a time when many Christian ministries are struggling, a few of the Soros network “faith” and “interfaith” grantees are Jim Wallis of Sojourners, Richard Cizik’s New Evangelical Partnership, Telos, J Street to malign Israel, “ Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Faithful America and Gamaliel. Faith in Public Life to “counter” Christians and the Tea Party in the media and, with PICO, advocate for amnesty, mass Islamic migration, and even to attempt to influence the visit and priorities of Pope Francis himself. Billions of additional dollars to “Christian VOLAGs” for large scale “refugee” and migrant resettlement come from the Obama administration.


Joining “faith” fronts, the Soros network also funds thousands of other collaborators and projects that suggest a pattern and goal to demoralize America (and Europe). The list includes: film studios and hundreds of media outlets; attempts to control the Internet; racial and gender agitation; euthanasia; drug legalization and “injection zones;” abortion and the “sex worker” industry; Al Gore’s Climate campaign; pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel projects; the rights of jihadists and Sharia advocates.


In the ironic rhetoric of compassion, Soros and friends also fund mass immigration followed by redistricting schemes and “voting “rights,” while financing the campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. (Soros is a major donor to the Democratic Party and co-chairman of Ready for Hillary PAC.) One wonders if the end goal is the destruction of national identity through demoralization, open borders and debt, thus the “fundamental transformation” (weakening) of American civil society for their leveraged global power. (They have done this to other nations.)


We urge you to question the true intentions of persons or organizations that receive money from Soros and other billionaire globalists. We must not give their surrogates four more years.”


It would be of great value to read the entire letter and click on the links.

The Walnut Tree


The Walnut Tree



“I’m sorry. I said what I said because of what you said.”


“Maybe you shouldn’t have said what you said.”

“I apologized. I said I was wrong to say that. Your apology…”

“I apologized for what I said. Take it or leave it.”

“The apologies are not the same.”

“They aren’t because of what you said,” Leah countered.

Elliot stuck the key in the front door lock and asked, “Can we put this behind us?”

“If you do.”


Elliot unlocked the door and let Leah and the kids into the house that was once the home of a chicken farmer in 1898. The house had been built in West Linden Oaks, a town founded along the railroad expansion west of Chicago. Over the years the patchwork two-story house had gained additions that sellers would call “charming” and that contractors would call “nightmarish”. The last owners had neglected the backyard. A hodge-podge of prairie grass, crabgrass and bare soil framed by overgrown shrubs was the view from the kitchen sink window. The back third of the yard was dark as it was overshadowed by a 50-foot-tall walnut tree.

Surveying the yard the day after Elliot and Leah took possession of the house, Elliot imagined a garden and wondered about the walnut tree. The soil beneath its canopy was ink black and nothing was growing.

“Hi Neighbor.” The almost whispered greeting had come from the other side of the garage. Elliot looked around the corner of the garage. There at the fence he saw an old man with grey hair and a frame that was tilted forward.

“That tree has been here as long as I have. Hi neighbor, I’m Bud.”

“Hi, I’m Elliot.”

“I was born and raised and married and now retired in that house, “Bud pointed over his shoulder to his two-story white house. “I saw lightning hit your tree in ’63. Lightening must like those deep-rooted types.

“I wouldn’t plant cabbage, peppers, tomatoes or blueberries over there,” he said pointing to the shaded area under the walnut tree. “I’d move the garden to the middle of the yard past the tree’s root system. That tree’s fruit falls to the ground every year and the hulls poison the soil with juglone which is toxic to certain plants. Juglone protects the tree to assure its survival. So, you’ll want to plant away from the dripline which is from the trunk to the end of the branches. The soil will be toxic under the dripline. And if you want the nutmeat from the walnut for a walnut pie, then you had better wear gloves and protection to get it out its husk. The stain doesn’t come off. Time is the only thing that will wear the black pigment off of your hands. My stains are fading.” Bud showed Elliot his hands blotted hands. “My wife Gracie made some delicious walnut pies from those nutmeats.”

Looking over at Bud’s well-kept yard Elliot asked, “How do you know so much about all this?”

“I worked for the Department of Streets and Sanitation here in the village for forty-one years. My eyes began giving me a problem and my back, too. And then Gracie became ill. I planted a lot of trees over the years.”


When the first Sunday in their new home came around Elliot gave his son Ronny a shower and then got him dressed. He then helped his daughter Ribbon find some clean clothes at the bottom of her closet. “It’s almost time for church. You two finish up. I have to get dressed.” Elliot went to the master bedroom and found Leah dressing.

“I want to go to my grandmother’s next weekend,” Leah said.

“I…I have to play in the worship band next Sunday.”

“I knew you’d weasel out of it. I’ll take the kids. Grandma hasn’t seen them in months. She’s not happy that our kids aren’t raised Catholic.”

“My personal evangelism teacher Mr. Winslett back at the Midwest Institute of the Bible told me that Catholicism is a cult. They worship Mary he said. I believed it at the time. I was proud of being such a no-nonsense Protestant like Mr. W. But later, I thought it was better to have more Mary than less Mary in the church.”

“You haven’t heard anything yet. A priest came to my parent’s house one time to play cards. He left the game after gulping down his scotch to perform nine-o’clock Mass.”

“Do you think Mary would approve?”

“Well, she could count on him to show up.”


“Grandma Dot says that God doesn’t have a sense of humor.”

“That may explain the hard-drinking priests. Your grandmother must have had a hard life. “

“Her husband had an affair with her sister after thirty-six years of marriage. Grandma would not forgive her sister. And then later my grandfather died from lung cancer.”

“Ouch. Hey. Look at the time. I have to set up the chairs before everyone gets there.”

“I have to get there early, too. I have to get things ready in the sacristy. What about the kids? They have to get ready, too.”

“I got them ready. They are downstairs chasing the dog around the dining room table.”

“Did you walk the dog?”


“Did you feed the fish? Did you take the meat out of the freezer?”


“Did you get them to brush their teeth?


Five minutes later Leah and the kids were in the car. Leah blew the horn. Elliot was scrambling to find his blue tie. It had been moved. The car’s horn blew again. “We’re gonna be late,” Leah yelled from the front seat. “Leave it to your father to make us late.”



Dorothy Blacklock – Dot – lived in a house with bats on Hickory Boulevard. in Des Moines, Iowa. The rodents inhabited an upstairs bedroom behind a closed door. When Dot could no longer walk up the stairs she implored her family to remove the bats. The family felt she had enough money and time to deal with the matter. “Just call an exterminator,” they told her. “They’ll just take advantage of me and charge too much” Dot told them.

The first time Elliot met Dot he could see that was severely crippled with arthritis. Her spine had curled and become rigid over time. Her hands were gnarled, boney and stiff. The thumb and index finger of each hand acted like pincers. Elliot was struck by Dot’s yellow tinged leather-like face beneath a shock of white hair. A smoker for fifty years, deep furrowed lines, like gorges, flared from Dot’s tight pursed lips and from the corner of her watery eyes. She put away the oxygen tank when Elliot and Leah and the kids came over.

Day in and day out Dot occupied the coach in front of the TV set in the living room. She would eat breakfast – peanut butter on toast – watching the local news. She griped to her daughter on the phone when her neighbor down the street brought her the local paper after ten o’clock. She griped to her granddaughter on the phone about the erratic mail delivery times and “those Republicans.” After the evening news she slept on the couch.

On Saturdays Dot went to Mass with her neighbor Joyce. Joyce was an avid reader of Readers’ Digest. And that is where she found a quote from Hubert Humphrey that she shared with Dot one day on the way to Mass.

“It is not what they take away from you that counts. It’s what you do with what you have left.”

Dot snarled, “I can do nothing with a house full of bats.”



Later that Sunday afternoon there was a knock on the front door.

“Hi neighbor. Can you put these eye drops in for me? Gracie is not able to do it.” Bud stood at the door in bib overalls.”

“Sure. Sit on the bench.”

Bud ambled over to the porch bench and plopped down. Elliot walked over and stood in front of Bud. He carefully placed his hand on Bud’s forehead. As he did Bud leaned his head back. Elliot squeezed the dropper and a drop of glycerin fell onto Bud’s dilated pupil. Bud blinked several times. Elliot applied the drops to Bud’s left eye. Bud blinked and wiped the corners of his eyes. Bud looked around and said, “Thanks, neighbor. I need to do this once a week.”

“I’ll be here. Just knock.”



Leah’s mother and Dot’s daughter Scarlett Rand nee Scarlett Blacklock had married a Jesuit seminarian. This happened after Scarlett and Francis Rand had been seen together holding hands in their small town. Scarlett quickly divorced Leah’s father, considering him too plebeian for her purposes. Child support and the Church’s annulment of her marriage to Cliff would serve her higher calling.

Leah’s father never forgave Scarlett and Scarlett never seemed to give a damn about what anyone thought of her decision to defrock a seminarian and divorce her husband. When asked about the matter, Scarlett told seventeen-year-old Leah that she wasn’t committing adultery. “We’re just good friends. Francis is a spiritual man and your father doesn’t affirm me like Francis does.



Over the years the house would need many repairs. A new sewer drain pipe had to be laid out to the street. Tree roots had so choked the original line that sewage would backup and flood the basement with putrid black septic goo. A backhoe had to retrench and lay a new pipe. The marriage, too, needed a lot of work. At one point Leah demanded marriage counseling.


Psychologist Kasparov was a rotund man in his late fifties with large bags under his bloodshot eyes. He sat in a round chair in the middle of the room facing Elliot and Leah who sat on a love seat. “So, how can I help you two?’

“He doesn’t love me,” Leah shifted her legs and started the conversation.


“There is something going on that I don’t understand.”

“I see.”

“I can’t depend on him. I send him to the store to pick up eggs and milk and he comes back with eggs and cheese. And the other day he does the laundry without telling me. Now the kid’s clothes are gray. He shrunk them, too. I don’t feel listened to or valued when he screws up like this.”

“What do you want from Elliot?

“I want to depend on him. I should feel cherished and I don’t.”

“I see. Elliot, what do you want?”

“I want the confusion to end.”


Over the next several months when Elliot and Leah saw Kasparov Elliot had hoped that Leah would bring up her past. In the third year of their marriage Elliot learned from a drinking Leah that boyfriends and abortions were in her past and so were drugs and working for an escort service to pay for the drugs. Leah had never said a word about these things before their marriage. Leah never said a word about these things during the sessions with Kasparov. Elliot left those things for her to say. It was her responsibility. And, he didn’t want to divulge those things and make it look like he was blaming her for whatever the problem was.

“Do you love Leah, Elliot?

“I bring her chocolates and coffee to her bed in the morning before I go to work.”

“That is not enough. I don’t feel loved,” Leah interjected.

“I brought you to my church. You said you came to believe in Jesus one Sunday.”

“It was my decision. You had nothing to do with it.”

In a later session Elliot found out that Leah had called and talked at length to Kasparov. She had asked that he have a one on one session with Elliot to get the root of the problem.


Elliot met with Kasparov. Slumping down in the chair Elliot said that he was puzzled. “Leah isn’t happy and she is saying that I am the reason. I am just trying to maintain life as I know it for her and the kids. I don’t handle confusion well.” Kasparov suggested that Elliot see the clinic’s psychiatrist for an anti-depressant. Elliot made the appointment that day.

A week later Dr. Nutter greeted Elliot in the clinic’s waiting room. “C’mon in.” After twenty minutes of background talk Dr. Nutter wrote Elliot a script for Zollift. “Come back in a month let’s talk again.”

A month later and Elliot was sitting before Dr. Nutter with a look of resignation. “Leah is angry all the time. I don’t know why. Now she is telling our church friends that I am the problem in the marriage. I am at a loss. I don’t have the emotional resources to care anymore. Besides I am the only one working and paying for the counseling sessions. I have to go to work and think about work or else.”


Several months later Elliot sat down at his desk and tried to focus. The marriage counseling had ended when Leah demanded a separation. Elliot then found a two-bedroom apartment. Having to pay rent and the mortgage on the house was a weight on Elliot that crushed him. At his desk tears filled his eyes. Elliot went out to his car. He made a decision.

Elliot drove to the apartment and then called his boss. “I need some time off. I am dealing with some personal things.” His boss said “OK, how much time?” “A week, maybe two. I don’t know. I’ll call.” Elliot hung up the phone, his face wet with tears.

Six weeks ago Elliot had stopped taking the Zollift. It had made him feel lethargic and indifferent. Those feelings scared him. He wanted to care about his marriage and what was happening to his family. But he also knew that if he cared like he wanted to then he couldn’t do his work and if he didn’t do his work he couldn’t afford to take care of his family and pay for the mounting debt. He called Dr. Nutter’s emergency number.

“I want to go somewhere quiet. I am so depressed I can’t do anything. I feel paralyzed. I sit at my desk everyday crying. I want to care but I don’t want to care. I want to go somewhere where I’m not.”

“Do you think you will hurt yourself?”

“I don’t know. I have never been depressed before. It is getting worse every minute.”

“Go to Mercy Hospital emergency room. I will tell them you are coming. Is someone there who can drive you? “

“I am separated. I can drive.”

“When you get to the hospital you will be on suicide watch. I’ll sign the papers so you can be admitted to Three Oaks Mental Health Facility. The hospital will transport over you to Three Oaks.”


At Three Oaks Elliot received a physical. Then Dr. Val Camani interviewed Elliot. Elliot mentioned that he had stopped taking Zollift. “I didn’t like what it did to me. Now I’ve crashed.” Dr. Camani gave Elliot two Wellbuthen tablets and then sent Elliot off to bed.

The beds were like foamed slabs of concrete and Elliot couldn’t sleep. The patient in the next bed, Ivan Denisovich, snored and wheezed. A buzzing fluorescent light in the hallway emitted cold light into the door less room. Elliot talked to the night nurse and asked for a sleeping pill. Soon Elliot found his quiet place.


The patients in the mental health ward on the fifth floor were locked in. No one had a cell phone. On Tuesday night patients were allowed to use the hallway phone from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. After waiting his turn Elliot called home. He wanted to make sure he kids were Ok and not worried about him.

“Where the hell are you?” Leah pounced.

“I’m at Three Oaks clinic. I needed to get away.”

“How are you going to pay for my cell phone bill in there? It is due Thursday.”

“I don’t know. Let me talk to Ribbon.”


“Hi kiddo. I am OK. I just needed to get away to a quiet place. How are you doing?”


“Good is you brother there? I don’t have much time. I love you.


“Hi buddy. I am OK. I just needed to get away to a quiet place. How are you doing?”


“Great. I’ll see you and Ribbon soon. Let me talk to mom. I love you.”


“I am trying to get out of here as soon as I can. They gave me a different anti-depressant. The Zollift made me not care about anything. I hated it. I stopped taking it and I think that caused me to crash. I’m better now but I can’t leave until they say so.”

“You have some bills to pay. Why can’t I depend on you? I am going out with some friends on Friday night. You better get out and take the kids this weekend or I will be really pissed.”

“My time is up. I’ll see when I can get out of here. I’ll call Thursday night.”


Three Oaks released Elliot on Good Friday morning. He drove over to the house. Ronny and Ribbon were anxiously waiting for him. That night Elliot read Swiss Family Robinson to them before bed.


One day a year later Leah told Elliot, “I’ll give you one more chance.” So Elliot moved back into the house, not sure if anything had changed other than the amount of debt he owned.


On Elliot’s fiftieth birthday, Leah decided to give him sex. As they got themselves undressed Elliot asked, “Could you just wear that perfume I like.” Leah jumped out of bed, put on her robe and stormed out of the room.  “What was that about?” Elliot wondered, naked on the bed. From experience he knew that he would never get an answer, at least not the answer related to what just happened.

A few minutes later Ronny and Ribbon called for Elliot to come down for his birthday cake. He blew out the “50”candle while Ronny and Ribbon sang “Happy Birthday”. Leah just stood there holding a glass of wine in front of a stoic grimace. Under her arched eyebrows the pupil of each eye had constricted down to form a black bee bee. Elliot decided to clean up and put the kids to bed.

After Ronny and Ribbon were in bed and Leah had downed her fourth glass of wine, Elliot and Leah went to the garage to play darts. Going into the garage they noticed the wind. On the driveway fallen leaves were now churning in whirlwinds. There was a cold electric charge in the air. Elliot looked out around the garage door. “Look’s like we’re gonna have a doozy tonight. We better get started.”

Off to the west behind the Walnut tree lightening etched the night sky. Moments later a bombastic thunder boom shook the air. “Mom! Dad!” Ribbon called out from her upstairs bedroom. Leah ran to comfort her.

Leah sat down on the edge of Ribbon’s bed and looked out the window. It was then that she heard a loud “POP!” and saw what looked like sparks of a Roman candle in the corner of the backyard. The pole transformer had been hit by a lightning strike. Immediately the lights went out in the house and garage. Then she heard a long cracking sound and then a massive crunch. Lightening flashed again and Leah could see that a stout limb of the walnut tree had fallen through the roof of the garage. Leah got up and raced downstairs. She stopped in the kitchen to grab a flash light.

“Elliot? Elliot! Are you OK?” There was no answer. Shining the light inside Leah entered the garage. “Elliot? Elliot!” No answer.  A motionless foot appeared under a branch. From the bottom of the shoe Leah lifted the light along to where Elliot’s head would be. Moving a branch and then a pile of walnut husks Leah saw Elliot’s face under a laurel of leaves. She gasped. On his temple was a large bleeding gash. Beneath, his eyes were closed and there was a look of silken repose on his face – almost like the weight of the world had been lifted off of him. Leah drew back in disgust, her hands blackened by the broken walnut husks. “How could you do this to me, Elliot, leaving me and the kids like this? I could never count on you.”




©Sally Paradise, 2016, All Rights Reserved

Kingdom Continuum


“…how constant, how divine,

this song of ours will rise…”

-David Crowder’s “O Praise Him”


The Anglican church I attend will be celebrating one-hundred and fifty years of Kingdom Life in 2018. Preparations are being made by the rectors and vestry to tell the narrative of this faith community. A cloud of witnesses will oversee the events.

Chapel & Cemetery ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Chapel & Cemetery ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Reflecting on the Kingdom of God several years ago I came to the understanding, with the help of the writings of Pauline Scholar N.T. Wright, that the Kingdom of God on earth is here and now. The Kingdom was inaugurated by Jesus when he walked this earth. Why mention this?

As I walk around on Resurrection ground I am reminded that I walk on the same earth as all the saints from all nations who have gone on before me. Their lives and their faith in God’s covenant faithfulness have made it possible for me to have faith in 2016.  The organism of their faith now lives in me.

Now, I could consider myself an Enlightened person who needs nothing and no one but reason and self but then I would shrink myself into a private rather than a public form of consciousness – a community of one, isolated and where the sacred is eschewed and nihilism offers nothing. Rather, I chose this continuum of faith and have identified myself with it. This continuum has, in turn, given me an identity, through baptism. I placed myself in the waters of the Kingdom Continuum.

Our faith community’s coming together to participate in ages old ritual is with the knowledge that we are under judgement. We must recite what we know to be true about God and about ourselves.

We come together in the liturgy.  The Celebrant starts…

“Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit…Almighty God, unto all hearts are open…Hear what the Lord Jesus Christ said:  Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind…Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Our Kingdom community, in worship of the One True God, recites The Gloria. Together we hear sacred texts read. Together we recite the ancient Nicene Creed. Together we participate in the Prayers of the People. Together we kneel accepting judgement.  Together we confess – say the same thing about our sin as God does – and then hear the words of absolution. We rise to extend God’s Kingdom peace through a handshake or an embrace of the other.

The Eucharist – the Feast of Thanksgiving – is a rite commanded by The One who said “Do this…” and “I’m telling you a solemn truth. If you don’t eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. Anyone who feasts upon my flesh and drinks my blood has the life of God’s coming age, and I will raise them up on the last day. My flesh is true drink and my blood true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I remain in him. Just as the living father sent me, and I live because of the father, so the one who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven; it isn’t like bread which the ancestors ate, and died. The one who eats this bread will share the life of God’s new age.” The Word became flesh and the Kingdom Continuum becomes sustainable.

We come together knowing that we stand under judgement but also knowing that there is One of us whose sacrificial death pronounces us restored.  This inversion, our Lord’s sacrifice into sacrament, is a gift that reminds us that we are redeemed:  from fallen to restored.  The judgement of many has been answered by the One Death. And like a Greek tragedy, this our tragedy is reenacted over and over in the hearts and souls and minds of the one-hundred and fifty-year-old faith community that is built on Resurrection ground.

For the Beauty of…Horicon Marsh


For the beauty of the earth,

For the beauty of the skies,

For the Love which from our birth

Over and around us lies:

Christ, our God, to Thee we raise

This our Sacrifice of Praise.


Original text from 1864 of Folliott S. Pierpoint’s hymn For the Beauty of the Earth

When I go to be with the Lord I want this Eucharistic hymn, my favorite hymn, sung at my passing. I want to raise a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to the King of Heaven and earth.

There is much to give thanks for…

Horicon Marsh 7:30 AM ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Horicon Marsh 7:30 AM
©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Horicon Marsh mid-morning ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Horicon Marsh mid-morning
©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Horicon Marsh facing SW ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Horicon Marsh facing SW
©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Horicon Marsh - photosynthetic algae ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Horicon Marsh – photosynthetic algae
©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Horicon Marsh hiking trail ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Horicon Marsh hiking trail
©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers


For the Beauty of the Earth – John Rutter

Horicon Marsh and the Landowner


Walking around on resurrection ground, what did I find? Horicon Marsh aka Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin.

Now about the Landowner: In previous posts I have noted as have others that The Kingdom of God is here and now. Jesus inaugurated his Kingdom on earth when he walked this earth. His resurrection signified among many wonders that His creation would be reborn, restored to its original glory. The Landowner, King Jesus, delights in His creation. He is also delighted when Kingdom caretakers are delighted with the work of His hands. And we, like David, find this out first hand.

It is in the parable of The Landowner (Matthew 20) that we learn that the Landowner honors all those who want to be a part of what he is doing – and no matter how late in the day. It is this Kingdom equality with its reordering – the first shall be last and the last first – which overturns the individual’s power struggle to be more equal than others.


Now, not only did I find Horicon Marsh on a map one day (I love maps) but when I arrived at the Marsh I found the Kingdom of God flourishing in a wildlife refuge. At once I imagined that when Jesus returns such a place would no longer need refuge status. Such a place would then exist alongside man without signage and “protection.” The Kingdom of God is creation’s refuge. When the King returns he will make sure of it.


Delight, for me, has a component of awe, of the gobsmakcked. Consider that roughly 4.6 billion years ago God spoke the universe into being.  Since then the evolved creation with it given potentiality has been thriving with creatures both great and small.


The many photos and movies taken during my trip to the “King’s” Marsh will be presented over several posts.  I shot many vistas as I was awestruck by the acres of marsh grass and the horizon that “joins” the expanse of heaven and the expanse of earth.  I saw colors and shades in nature that would make any watercolorist zealous to paint.

You will see creatures:  the matte-black prehistoric-looking Double-crested Cormorant and the American White Pelican along with varieties of birds darting, swooping and floating on thermals. The short movies will show the marsh in motion. Note: The wind across the open marsh often made the sound recording muffled. Oh well, next time I’ll bring some high tech sound equipment and some wading boots!

Behold the Kingdom of God. Behold the good.

Horicon Marsh south end looking south, near WI RT 28 ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Horicon Marsh south end looking south, near WI RT 28
©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Horicon Marsh south end looking north, near WI RT 28 ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Horicon Marsh south end looking north, near WI RT 28
©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

American White Pelican ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

American White Pelican
©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers




































Tuesday Morning at the Audubon

Tuesday Morning at the Audubon ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Tuesday Morning at the Audubon
©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

County Road TW

County Road TW ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

County Road TW
©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Backstreet Café, Monday, 5:00 am

Backstreet Café, Monday, 5:00am  ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Backstreet Café, Monday, 5:00 am

©Ann Johnson, Kingdom Venturers

On Earth as in Heaven